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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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Kelly Butte Reservoir Project

  • Kelly Butte Reservoir Project The project replaced the 10-million-gallon aboveground water storage steel tank built a top Kelly Butte in 1969 with a new buried 25-million-gallon reinforced concrete reservoir.

  • Preparing for the Future In September 2012, City Council voted to move forward with replacing the old tank with a new 25-million-gallon reinforced underground reservoir. The project will assist the bureau in meeting the EPA’s deadline for protecting finished drinking water.

  • Tank Removal & Site Excavation By the end of 2012, the steel storage tank was completely demolished and removed. Fencing and erosion control were installed and crews worked to excavate the tank site.

  • Reservoir Rises from the Ground By the end of 2013, momentous progress had been made in the multifaceted process of building the 25-million-gallon underground reservoir, access roads & an intricate network of underground piping, multiple vaults & valve structures.

  • Building for Today, Planning for Tomorrow By the end of 2014, crews completed construction of the reservoir. Functional testing of the new reservoir & valves will be complete within the next few months.

  • Kelly Butte Reservoir Goes Online, Now Serving Customers In March 2015, the two cells composing the new 25-million gallon underground reservoir at Kelly Butte in southeast Portland were successfully placed online. The reservoir now serves Bull Run water to customers across the City of Portland and beyond.

  • Restoring the Landscape Crews are undertaking a comprehensive re-vegetation management project on the butte, strategically planting of more than 1,660 trees and 7,250 shrubs across the entire site.

  • The Future of Kelly Butte The Kelly Butte Reservoir will not only serve east Portland, but will also be a stopover for water supplied to the Washington Park reservoir and southwest Portland area water storage tanks.


April 24, 2015
In March 2015, the two cells composing the new 25-million gallon underground reservoir at Kelly Butte in southeast Portland were successfully placed online. The reservoir now serves Bull Run water to customers across the City of Portland and beyond.

Click here to read additional project updates.

Project Background

On September 5, 2012, the Portland City Council voted to move forward with the Portland Water Bureau’s plan to replace the 10-million-gallon above ground steel tank atop Kelly Butte in southeast Portland with a 25-million-gallon underground reservoir. 

The project will allow Portland to comply with federal rules that will lead to the three Mount Tabor open reservoirs being disconnected from the city’s water system. The council approved project cost is estimated at $90 million.

Kelly Butte is a forested hill near the intersection of SE Powell Boulevard and the Interstate 205 freeway. The 10-million-gallon water storage tank was placed on top of Kelly Butte in 1969. The Kelly Butte Reservoir Project will replace the steel tank with a new buried 25-million-gallon reinforced concrete reservoir. The project is being constructed by the Portland Water Bureau to meet stricter rules required by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) that require the city to disconnect its five open reservoirs in Mt. Tabor Park by 2015 and Washington Park by 2020.

The new reservoir will be in the same general location, but will have a larger footprint, approximately 400 x 300 feet in dimension. The larger replacement tank will be located underground. There will be a need for additional or upgraded piping to the new reservoir.

The contract for the construction project has been awarded to Hoffman Construction Company of Oregon.   

Project Schedule

Construction of the new underground reservoir began in late 2012 and is scheduled for completion by the end of 2015. The proposed schedule is as follows:

  • Fall 2012-Winter 2013: Road building and existing tank demolition; fencing and erosion controls installed.
  • Winter-Summer 2013: Excavation of tank site.
  • Summer-end of 2014: Underground tank concrete work.
  • 2015: Final landscaping and site restoration

Project Impacts

The Portland Water Bureau is committed to reducing construction impacts to residents and businesses as much as reasonably possible during construction. As the project is being built atop Kelly Butte, the impact to the community will be largely from increased heavy truck volume on SE Powell Boulevard, SE Division Street, 122nd and 112th Avenues, and the I-205 freeway. There will also be minor sidewalk construction work on 101st Avenue north of Kelly Butte. 

Work Hours

Construction activity will normally take place during weekdays from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m., Monday through Friday.  There will be no construction activities on Sundays due to the close proximity of the Central Church of the Nazarene. During the summer months, the contractor has the options to work longer hours, and Saturdays and nights, with City approval.


There will be an obvious increase in truck traffic caused by construction vehicles entering and leaving the property.

For the Kelly Butte Reservoir Project, the only legal access to the construction site is off SE Powell Boulevard, a state highway. Large volume truck traffic through the neighborhood to the north would be inconvenient to the residents. Further, there would be the major expense of building up roadway access on the north side of the butte through an environmental zone. Truck access on SE Powell Boulevard will be right turn in / right turn out.


The neighboring church and businesses may experience construction noise from machinery and large trucks working on the project site. Others may notice increased traffic noise from trucks hauling dirt or other construction related loads away from and to the site.

How Will the Site Be Restored?

This section of Kelly Butte will likely look much different when the project is complete. To accommodate the underground structure, a large amount of soil will need to be removed and later backfilled on the site, making the final elevations different. Many invasive plant species, like Himalayan blackberry, will be removed, and many native plant species will be added. Many native trees and meadow grass will be planted once the tank work is completed.

Additional Information

For information about this project, contact Lindsay Wochnick, Public Information, at 503-823-3028 or by e-mail. Thank you for your patience and cooperation as the Portland Water Bureau works to improve the city’s century old water system.