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Portland Water Bureau

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GENERAL INFORMATION: 503-823-7404

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

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Powell Butte Reservoirs Project

  • Powell Butte Reservoir 2

    Reservoir 2 will be completely covered with topsoil and repopulated with native plants. (May 2014 photo)

  • Underground Reservoir

    The concrete floor of the reservoir is 30 inches thick and the 26 inch thick concrete roof is supported by 540 columns. (May 2014 photo)

  • Visitor's Center

    The Visitor's Center showcases large doors that can enclose the space for classes or meetings, or be left open for public access to the visual displays. (July 2014 photo)

  • Maintenance Building

    To minimize the visual impact of the 5,000 square foot Maintenance Building, part of the structure was built into the ground, giving it a low profile. (January 2014 photo)

  • Park Center

    As part of stormwater management, the parking areas are water permeable, allowing rainwater to pass through the asphalt to an underlying stone bed. Water is then absorbed by underlying soil. (May 2014 photo)

  • Caretaker's House

    The House was strategically built on the hill to the southwest of the parking area to provide the caretaker with exceptional views over the entire park to enhance security. (December 2013 photo)

  • Multi-Use Trail System

    As part of the new reservoir project, many of the park’s trails have been improved, realigned, or reconnected in order to limit environmental impacts, reduce user conflicts, improve accessibility, and reduce fall-line impacts and steep grades.

2014 PROJECT UPDATES

July 9, 2014

Trail Update -- The trail contractor for the Portland Water Bureau is working on the trails in the meadow west of the Summit Lane loop this week, installing additional drainage rock to improve access during the winter. Repairs on the south portion of the Dogwood Trail is scheduled to start at the end of the week or early next week.  The Park’s SE 148th Avenue entrance will be used as access to transport in repair equipment.

Park users are reminded to use caution, obey any trail closure signs during construction and bring water for you and your pets.  There is a drinking fountain available for use at the Visitor Center.  See the newly updated temporary trail map.

June 27, 2014

Underground Reservoir & Restoration Efforts -- Construction of the second 50-million underground reservoir is nearing completion. The contractor is finishing work to seal the fine hairline cracks that are a normal part of reservoir construction with such huge amounts  of concrete.  Once finished, the reservoir will be covered with layers of soil and eventually native grasses.

Visitor Center & Main Park Parking Lot Now Open -- The new publicly-required Visitor Center features a solar roof, full-wall mural of Portland that identifies the city’s water and parks systems. Also, there are educational display, restrooms, a water pipe exhibits, habitat markers, and displays honoring Native-American tribes. Nearby is a stone natural area amphitheater and a Benson Bubbler. The temporary alternate parking locations will remain open until further notice.

Trail Closures & Delays -- As part of the project, many of the park’s nearly 10 miles of trails have been improved, realigned, or reconnected in order to limit environmental impacts, reduce user conflicts, improve accessibility, and reduce fall-line impacts and steep grades. Some work is still required and a few trails have been renamed to eliminate confusion. See the newly updated temporary trail map

Park visitors are reminded – for their safety – to keep out of fenced construction areas, stay on open, designated trails and be courteous to others, whether on foot, bike, or horse.

June 10, 2014

Powell Butte Nature Park Trail Work Update -- Park users are reminded to use caution and obey any trail closure signs during construction. The public will be notified when the trails reopen. Signs will be posted at trailheads to advise park users.

  • Mountain View Trail: Construction will be occurring on the Mountain View Trail during the week of June 9 through June 16. The contractor will be completing the rock base this week and plans to pave sections of the trail between the Visitors Center and the Mt. Finder on June 16.
  • The main entry road to the upper parking lot will be open to park visitors for weekend use only on June 7 and 8 and June 14 and 15. The weekday closures are necessary to allow construction crews to complete the contract-required rebuilding and repaving of the roadway into the park. During weekend visits, park users are asked to use caution and drive slowly over the loose gravel when traveling up the main road into the park.
  • The road on SE 162 Avenue and SE Powell Boulevard will reopen for everyday use starting Saturday, June 21 when the road construction is completed.
  • On the weekends, the restrooms in the park Visitor Center will be open.
  • The south portion of the Dogwood Trail remains closed. The north section of the trail is open including the connections to SE 148 Avenue and SE Holgate Boulevard entrances. Please observe the closure signs.

Access the Temporary Trail Map for additional trail information.

May 30, 2014

  Powell Butte Nature Park Road and Parking Lot Open for Weekend Use Only Starting Saturday, May 31 -- Powell Butte Nature Park’s main entry road to the upper parking lot will be open to park visitors for weekend use only starting Saturday, May 31 and Sunday, June 1. The lot will be again open on June 7 and 8, and June 14 and 15. The weekday closure are necessary to allow construction crews to complete the contract-required rebuilding and repaving of the roadway into the park. 

The road on SE 162nd Avenue and SE Powell Boulevard will reopen for everyday use starting Saturday, June 21 when the road construction is completed.

Also on the weekends, the restrooms in the publicly-required new park Visitor Center will be open. During weekend visits, park users are asked to use caution and drive slowly over the loose gravel when traveling up the main road into the park.

There is still some finishing work and planting left to be completed -- delayed in part by the much earlier than forecasted wet weather last year that slowed progress. Park visitors are reminded – for their safety – to keep out of fenced construction areas and to stay on open park trails. The alternate parking locations around Powell Butte will remain available.

The Water Bureau appreciates the public cooperation and patience. An exciting, improved park is coming!

May 16, 2014 

Water Project Construction to Impact SE 162nd Avenue at SE Division Street -- As part of the new water reservoir project in Powell Butte Nature Park, starting on Monday, May 19, 2014, the contractor for the Portland Water Bureau will install a large underground pipe and valve vault in SE 162nd Avenue, immediately north of SE Division Street.
 
The excavation will be adjacent to the Burgerville, near the northeast corner of SE Division Street at SE 162nd Avenue. Work is slated for completion by September 2014.

SAFETY FIRST
*  The work zone will be fenced for public safety.
*  Work hours are 7:00 AM to 6:00 PM, Monday through Friday.

DETOURS, CLOSURES & ACCESS:
* Work will require that the two north-bound lanes of SE 162nd Avenuebe closed around the work zone.
*  Traffic will be detoured at SE 148th and 174th Avenues.
*  The east-bound left turn from south-bound SE 162nd Avenue and north-bound right turn lanes from SE Division Street onto SE 162nd Avenue will be closed.
*  Access to the shopping center will not be impacted during construction.


April 24, 2014 

The south portion of the Dogwood Trail remains closed. The north section of the trail is open including the connections to SE 148th Avenue and Holgate Boulevard entrances.  Please observe the closure signs. The public will be notified when the trails reopen. Signs will be posted at trailheads to advise park users.

The Pioneer Orchard Trail is closed due to muddy areas in the meadow that need to be repaired. The Hawthorn trail also has muddy areas in the meadow.  We will be working with the contractor to determine a permanent solution. During the wet weather months, please help us minimize trail damage by staying off muddy trails.

The only other trails closed at this time are those within the fenced construction zone. There may be detours or slight delays on the open trails as the work progresses. The bridge and boardwalk construction has been rescheduled to allow for additional engineering and better weather conditions. The trail work is scheduled to be completed in spring/summer 2014. Temporary Trail Map 

The park center remains closed to the public and will reopen in May 2014. The main parking lot is closed to all vehicles and pedestrians. Interim parking is located at the Vivian Pump Station parking lot at 14424 SE Center, Gates parking lot at 13799 SE Holgate Blvd, and the Rose Bowling Center parking lot at 3800 SE 164th Ave. All temporary parking lots provide access to the trail system. Temporary restroom facilities are provided at the parking areas. The drinking fountain will not be available and park users are urged to bring drinking water for themselves and their pets. Trail Closure & Alternate Parking Map


March 25, 2014  

Work to connect the new 50-million gallon reservoir at Powell Butte to Portland’s drinking water distribution system is underway, and is expected to last through November 2014 at various locations in Southeast Portland.

The installation of seven underground vaults is a necessary and crucial step in connecting the new Powell Butte reservoir to the city’s water system.

To install underground vaults, contractor crews will first excavate a large hole for the vault, which will either be constructed onsite or built elsewhere and put in place. After vault construction or installation is finished – complete with a manhole cover – water connections are made and any electrical work is then performed. The final step is to cover the new vault with gravel and pave over it with asphalt. 

Vault at SE 42nd Avenue at SE Division StreetCurrently, four vaults have already been installed under two eastside streets:

  • Two side-by-side vaults on SE 147th Avenue at SE Division Street
  • One vault at SE 159th Avenue at SE Harrison Street
  • One vault at SE 42nd Avenue at SE Division Street 

Three vaults are scheduled to be installed within the next six months:

  • One vault at SE 67th Avenue and SE Division Street
  • One vault at SE 68th Avenue and SE Division Street
  • One vault at SE 162nd Street andSE Division Street

Vault at SE 147th Avenue at SE Powell BoulevardWhile we’ve worked with nearby residents and businesses to minimize construction impacts and ensure safe worksites and clearly marked detour routes, some noise, truck traffic, and street access impacts will be unavoidable. 

Your patience is appreciated as we work to upgrade and improve our community’s century-old water system, which first produced drinking water for Portlanders in 1895.

We work hard to be good neighbors when we do construction projects. For more project information, and to share your feedback, please call us at 503-823-6926. 

February 19, 2014

Winter/Spring 2014 Trail Updates BrochureThe Portland Water Bureau and Portland Parks & Recreation have just released the Winter/Spring 2014 Trail Updates tri-fold brochure.

As part of the improvement projects at Powell Butte Nature Park, both bureaus worked with park users to develop a new trail plan that included renaming several trails. The new trail names will go into effect in late 2014. Both the new and old trail names are included on a map in the brochure. Note that trails may have periodic closures for construction during 2014.

February 12, 2014

Portions of the trails in the north section of Powell Butte Nature Park are closed. Please observe the closure signs. The public will be notified when the trails reopen. Signs will be posted at trailheads to advise park users. During the wet weather months, please help us minimize trail damage by staying off muddy trails.

February 3, 2014

As part of the improvement projects at Powell Butte Nature Park, the Portland Water Bureau and Portland Parks & Recreation worked closely with park users to develop a new trail plan that included renaming several trails.

The new trail names will go into effect in late 2014. Both the new and old trail names are included on the "Powell Butte Nature Park Winter/Spring Trail Updates" brochure. Note that trails may have periodic closures for construction during 2014. 

January 24, 2014

The Pioneer Orchard Trail at Powell Butte Nature Park will be closed starting January 27, 2014.  The closure is due to muddy areas in the meadow that need to be repaired. 

The park center remains closed to the public and will reopen in May 2014. The main parking lot is closed to all vehicles and pedestrians. Interim parking is located at the Vivian Pump Station parking lot at 14424 SE Center, Gates parking lot at 13799 SE Holgate Blvd. and the PinbusterZ Family Fun Center (previously Rose Bowling Center) parking lot at 3800 SE 164 Ave. All temporary parking lots provide access to the trail system


Previous project updates can be viewed here.

Project Background
Portland must have sufficient drinking water storage capacity to meet the anticipated growth in demand for water and for fighting fires. The City must also offset the loss of its five open reservoirs (due to federal LT2 regulations). The three Mount Tabor Reservoirs will be disconnected from the City's water system in 2015; the Washington Park Reservoirs disconnected by 2020. Total project cost is estimated at $138 million.

It is for these reasons, the Portland Water Bureau is advancing its plans for a second underground 50-million gallon (MG) reservoir at Powell Butte Nature Park. The Water Bureau's long-range water storage plan includes the construction of four 50-MG reservoirs and a smaller 25-MG on Powell Butte, which was purchased by the City in 1925 for this purpose. The first underground reservoir was built in 1979-1980 and became operational in 1981.

The Portland Water Bureau conducted an extensive 13-year public process, from 1995 to 2008 to review issues related to Powell Butte Nature Park and the region's water supply system. The process included a formal Stakeholders Advisory Committee composed of interests outside of City government, including neighborhood associations, environmental organizations, recreational interests, schools, and outside water districts.

The Powell Butte Master Plan, started in 1995, identifies the City's plans to build a second reservoir by the year 2013. This plan was approved in the Powell Butte Conditional Use Master Plan (CUMP) in 2003.

As required under the CUMP -- at the public's request -- the reservoir project includes replacing the existing maintenance shed and restroom building with a new interpretive center and restroom. A new, permanent single-family residence as the Caretaker's House must be built. 

The CUMP also calls for a separate storage and maintenance facility to be built due to the expanded maintenance needs of both the Water Bureau and Portland Parks & Recreation.  Additional improvements include enhancements to the park's main parking lot, a new natural grass-setting outdoor teaching area (amphitheater) that will be built to better support the educational programs in the park, and a new trail plan to reduce areas of concerns for hikers, bicyclists and equestrians. Funding for the park improvements is included as part of the Water Bureau's Powell Butte Reservoir 2 Project.

The Water Bureau and Portland Parks and Recreation established a Project Advisory Committee (PAC), a group of citizens who helped formulate criteria that was used by building design and landscape architects to develop park facility designs. PAC members represented the three local neighborhood associations, nearby homeowners, and park user interest groups, such as the Friends of Powell Butte Nature Park, the Audubon Society, and Northwest Trails, Inc. The group began meeting in October 2009, and completed their work in May 2010.

Project Schedule
Construction will occur in two phases:

Phase 1:  The first phase was the excavation of the reservoir site began in July 2009 and was completed in May 2010.  During the first phase, hundreds of tons of soil were removed and transported off the butte. An estimated 100 truck trips per day made for a total of approximately 30,000 trips to and from Powell Butte. Some of the soil is being kept on the construction site to reuse on the site once the reservoir is constructed. 

Phase 2: In phase 2, hundreds of workers are constructing the buried concrete reservoir, pipes, vaults, emergency overflow structure, and a number of required park improvements. The second phase began in May 2011, with the project scheduled for completion in late 2013.

Public Impacts
Road and Parking Lot Closures
During construction, the Powell Butte Nature Park's main parking lot and the entrance road from SE 162nd Ave. will need to be closed for extended periods of time to allow for the construction of the new park facilities. When the main lot in the park is not accessible, you can use the parking lot at the nearby Rose Bowling Center, SE 164th Ave. and SE Powell Blvd. The Water Bureau has renewed its lease with the business to use some of its parking spaces. 

Also available is the temporary parking lot located on SE Center Street near SE 144th Avenue at the Water Bureau’s Vivian pump station which is now open for public use. The temporary parking lot on SE Holgate -- east of SE 136th Avenue on former Gate’s Property -- will be open in late fall 2011.

Once reservoir construction starts, the Water Bureau will open the two new temporary parking lots located on SE Center Street at SE 144th Ave. and at the trailhead at SE Holgate near SE 136th Ave. "Road Closed" signs will be posted when the main parking lot is unavailable. Notices also will be posted at the park entrances and the main parking lot kiosk.

Most Trails will be Affected Periodically during Construction
Portland Water Bureau and Portland Parks & Recreation will post the trail route changes on their respective websites and on kiosks located at each park entrance. 

Ongoing Updates 
The Portland Water Bureau and Portland Parks & Recreations staff will continue to keep the public informed about the project through our websites. In addition, there will be project news and park notices posted in the community newspapers and on kiosk bulletin boards stationed at each of the park's official entrances. The Water Bureau also introduced WaterWorks, a monthly electronic news bulletin, with project highlights and features. If you would like to receive it, please email Tim Hall, Public Information, at tim.hall@portlandoregon.gov.

Additional Information
For information about this project, contact Tim Hall, Public Information, at 503-823-6926 or 503-381-0056 (cell).

Thank you for your patience and cooperation as the Portland Water Bureau works to improve the city’s century old water system.


Previous Park Improvements at Powell Butte

Powell Butte Nature Park's previous improvements

Project Background

Background information at Powell Butte

Stormwater Management Report

Powell Buttee Reservoir #2 - Phase 2 Design

Powell Butte History

History of orchards and pastures

Land Use Review

LU 10-169463 CUMS EN AD

WaterWorks e-newsletter

Sign up for e-newsletter

Frequently Asked Questions

FAQs about Powell Butte