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Portland Water Bureau

From forest to faucet, we deliver the best drinking water in the world.


1120 SW Fifth Ave, Suite 600, Portland, OR 97204

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It’s That Time of Year: Fall Color in Portland Drinking Water

By Lindsay Wochnick Add a Comment

It's that time of year!Unusually dry weather this year meant that since July, the Portland Water Bureau has been supplementing the Bull Run water supply with a blend of groundwater from our Columbia South Shore Well Fields.  Fall rain has finally returned, and as of November 4, 2015, Portland will return to 100 percent Bull Run water.  As we return to the Bull Run source, especially at this time of year, some customers may notice a slight color change in their drinking water.

This is a normal occurrence in our system, as our water supply originates in the Bull Run Watershed near Mt. Hood. Before the water is treated and enters the distribution system, it can take on a tint from organic materials that are washed into the streams and the reservoirs in the watershed, particularly after the first fall rains. Drinking water from the Bull Run is not filtered, which is often why the color can be seen in tap water or staining the filters in your business or home.

The color you see is produced by tannins in organic material, much the same as the color you find in a cup of tea. There is nothing harmful to your health from these tannins. The color effects only the appearance of the water, not the quality.

The length of the fall color season varies with the strength and duration of the rains we experience during this time of year and how much organic material is carried into the system.

As always, the Portland Water Bureau constantly monitors the water entering the distribution system to ensure that it continues to meet all state and federal regulations for safe drinking water, and customers are notified of any changes that may affect the quality of the water we bring to you.

Any questions may be directed to the Water Quality Information Line at 503-823-7525.

Portland Water Bureau Returns to 100 Percent Bull Run Water

By Jaymee Cuti Add a Comment

The Portland Water Bureau returned to 100 percent Bull Run water today, Nov. 4. After supplementing the Bull Run water with groundwater from the Columbia South Shore Well Field since July 16, recent rains have refilled reservoirs in the Bull Run watershed to near capacity. This allows Portland to return to the Bull Run source. Both the Bull Run and Columbia South Shore Well Field are high quality water sources that meet or surpass all federal and state drinking water regulations.

Through careful planning and investment, Portland has developed two excellent water sources that ensured the City could meet all of its customers’ needs through this long, warm and dry summer. Together, the Bull Run watershed and the Columbia South Shore Well Field constitute a resilient drinking water supply.

It will take one to eight days, depending on location, for 100 percent Bull Run water to move through the distribution system and reach customers. As Portland returns to 100 percent Bull Run water, customers may notice a change in the color of their water. Fall rains wash organic material into the reservoirs, which add tannins to the water, resulting in a faint tea color. These tannins are safe, only affecting the appearance of the water; not the quality. More information on fall color can be found at

While public notification is not required, the Water Bureau informs the media and sensitive users when it activates and discontinues use of groundwater.

To learn more about the Columbia South Shore Well Field, visit Customers with water quality questions are encouraged to contact the Water Line at 503‐823‐7525.

Night Work Reduces Section of SW Macadam Avenue to One Lane Each Direction Overnight Nov. 3 – Nov. 20

By Teresa Black Add a Comment

Portland Water Bureau crews will begin night work on SW Macadam Avenue between SW Nevada Street and SW California Street on Tuesday, November 3 and complete on Friday, November 20. To minimize traffic disruptions, the work will begin at 8 p.m. and be complete by 5 a.m. each day.  During construction, SW Macadam Avenue will remain open in both directions but traffic will be reduced to one lane in each direction. Some turning movements could be restricted. As with any construction project, safety is the first priority. Please obey flaggers and all construction signs. 

Project Information
The Hannah Mason Pump Station is being built to replace the aging Fulton Pump Station on SW Nevada Street. Work began in March 2015 and will continue into fall of 2016. The Water Bureau is working closely with Portland Parks & Recreation and other local agencies to coordinate this project with ongoing operations and other projects in the area. Neighbors, local businesses and other stakeholders are updated as work progresses.

For more information, visit the project website:

Water Bureau Kicks Off FY 2016-17 Budget

By Lindsay Wochnick Add a Comment

The development of the Portland Water Bureau’s Fiscal Year (FY) 2016-17 budget is well underway.

For the upcoming fiscal year, the Water Bureau will propose a budget that:

  • Balances the infrastructure and service needs of the city’s aging and complex water system,
  • Complies with state and federal regulations relating to clean water, and is
  • Understanding of the economic issues facing both residential and business customers throughout the Portland metropolitan area.


For the next fiscal year’s budget process, the Portland Utility Board (PUB) will serve as the Budget Advisory Committee (BAC) for the Portland Water Bureau and the Bureau of Environmental Services.

The PUB is a nine-member citizen oversight body that meets all year to oversee the bureau’s development of financial plans, capital improvement plans, the annual budget, and rate-setting for the City's sewer, stormwater, and water services. The PUB will advise the City Council.

Previous PUB meetings were held in September and mid-October. Upcoming meetings are listed below. Future meetings will be posted on the PUB's online Meeting Calendar. Meetings are open to the public.

November 3, 2015
4 - 7 p.m.
Portland Building
Room C (2nd Floor)
1120 SW 4th Ave, Portland, OR 97204

November 24, 2015
4 - 7 p.m.
Portland Building
Room C (2nd Floor)
1120 SW 4th Ave, Portland, OR 97204

Stay Up to Date

To stay in the know about the Water Bureau’s budget progress, visit For more information on the PUB, including resources and meeting agendas and minutes, visit

Washington Park Reservoir Project: Historic Landmarks Commission Meeting on the Type III Historic Review Application Rescheduled for November 9, 2015

By Lindsay Wochnick Add a Comment

In order to comply with federal and state mandates, and ensure a healthy, resilient, and secure water system, the Portland Water Bureau is moving forward with a project to update the Washington Park reservoir site. 

Due to a lack of a quorum, the public meeting before the Historic Landmarks Commission on the
Type III Historic Review application
for the Washington Park Reservoir Improvements Project
is rescheduled to
1:30 p.m., Monday, November 9, 2015, at 1900 SW Fourth Avenue, Portland, Oregon.

No public testimony will be taken during this meeting.

Public Meeting Rescheduled
On August 10, 2015, a public hearing was held before the Historic Landmarks Commission to review the Portland Water Bureau's Type III Historic Review application. The Commission listened to public testimony, evaluated the application, and reviewed the Bureau of Development Services (BDS) staff report

At the conclusion of the hearing, the Commission held the record open for two weeks to receive new evidence, another week to receive responses from all interested parties, and a final week to receive the applicant’s (Water Bureau) rebuttal of evidence in the record. The public record closed September 8, 2015.

The Commission was scheduled to deliberate on the proposal and make a tentative decision at a public meeting on October 26, 2015. Due to a lack of quorum, the meeting has been rescheduled for November 9, 2015.

The Type III application describes the proposed project’s construction of a covered reservoir, reflecting pools, lowland habitat area/bioswale, and walkways along with historic preservation and rehabilitation actions. These new features will offer the public enhanced access to the surface water features and classically-designed gatehouses, dams, and related structures.

Project Details
The Water Bureau’s Washington Park Reservoir Improvements Project proposes to build a new below-ground reservoir in the same general footprint as the existing upper Reservoir 3, with a reflecting pool on top.

The lower Reservoir 4 basin and the slope west of it are needed to provide landslide abatement; the slope will be restored to its pre-reservoir condition. Reservoir 4 will be disconnected from the public drinking water system and a lowland habitat area/bioswale and a reflecting pool are also proposed in the Reservoir 4 basin. Work will primarily be within the Historic District.

The project addresses major reservoir issues, including recurrent landslide damage, compliance with federal law, seismic vulnerability, and deterioration of the 120 year-old structures.

The Washington Park Reservoir Project includes three Land Use Reviews (LUR) further detailed in the chart to the right.

1. Type IV Demolition Review application: The application proposed the removal of the Weir Building (screen house), portions of lower Reservoir 4’s basin, and upper Reservoir 3’s basin in Washington Park.

2. Type III Historic Review application: The application describes the proposed project’s construction of a covered reservoir, reflecting pools, lowland habitat area/bioswale, and walkways along with historic preservation and rehabilitation actions.         

3. Type III Conditional Use/ Environmental/Tree Reviews application: The application addresses development impacts to the site, park, and surrounding neighborhoods, tree protection, natural-area restoration, and construction and traffic management for the Washington Park Reservoir Improvements Project.

Before work permits are issued or construction begins, all LUR applications must be approved. The applications are a result of a robust public involvement process that included multiple public open houses and nine Community Sounding Board meetings that guided design for the required visible features of the Washington Park Reservoir project.

For more information on the Type III and IV LUR processes, visit the BDS website.

Additional Information & Contacts
For detailed project information, visit the project webpage or contact Water Bureau Public Information staff at 503-823-3028 or by e-mail. Visit the Bureau of Development Services’ website or call 503-823-7300 for more information on the land use review application process.