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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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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

We have developed this FAQ about the Mt. Tabor project based in part questions we have heard from community members. They are designed to provide a better understanding of the proposed project and schedule, construction impacts, preservation, public feedback opportunities, costs, park amenities, and long-term planning.





Who owns Mt. Tabor Park?           
The City of Portland owns all of Mt. Tabor Park. Different parts of the park were purchased with funds dedicated for water or parks uses, but individual bureaus do not own any part of the park independently. City Council Ordinance #182457, approved December 24, 2008, assigned management authority over different areas of the park to the Portland Parks and Recreation (PP&R) and the Portland Water Bureau (PWB).

Will the reservoirs be declared surplus once they're disconnected from the drinking water distribution system? 
The City Council has committed to a public process, including strong community input, to plan for the future of this part of the park. Parks Commissioner Amanda Fritz will lead the process with support from Commissioner Fish. Public land is only declared surplus when it is no longer needed, and only after the approval of the City Council. PWB will continue to have operational facilities in the park.

How do I participate in the planning for the future of this part of the park?  
Commissioner Fritz will lead the public involvement process for the future of this part of the park. She has not yet indicated when the process will begin. When more information about this process is available, updates will be posted to both the Water Bureau and Parks Bureau websites, and the City will send out public notices.

How can I participate in the planning for the current reservoir project?        
The Water Bureau will offer several opportunities to learn more about this project and weigh in with your feedback. The bureau will host walking tours at the park, will provide information about the project at two upcoming community meetings scheduled for May 6th and June 11th, and has created this project website to share more information.

The City's Bureau of Development Services administers the land use review application process. When BDS has determined that the application is complete, the bureau will send notice of a public hearing in front of the Historic Landmarks Commission, including the location and time of the hearing. During the land use process, the public is welcome to submit written comments to BDS at 1900 SW Fourth Ave, Suite 5000, Portland, OR 97204 and can also offer testimony at the hearing.

Will this project preserve the historic features of the reservoir sites? 
The project will preserve the historic features of the reservoirs. PWB is consulting with an architectural firm, Apropos, which specializes in historic preservation. This firm is assisting with the historic resource inventory and permitting. In addition, the bureau is consulting with the Oregon State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO) for input on historic mitigation. Finally, the decision-making body for this Land Use Review is the Historic Landmarks Commission, which provides leadership and expertise on maintaining and enhancing Portland's historic and architectural heritage.

What is the project schedule?


Tentative Date

Self-guided walking tours of the project site

Ongoing – project diagrams posted at each of the 11 work areas

LUR application submitted to BDS

Slated for late September 2014

BDS completeness check

Three weeks immediately following the applications submittal

PWB response to completeness check

Approximately two weeks

Public notice issued

When BDS determines application is complete; dependent upon how much additional information BDS requests from the Water Bureau

Public comment period

30 days from the BDS designation of completeness, closing at the public hearing

LUR hearing Historic Landmarks Commission

August 2014

If appealed to Council

Fall 2014

LUR decision expected

Fall 2014

Start construction

Winter 2014 - 2015

Disconnect reservoirs

December 31, 2015

Complete construction

June 30, 2016

What is the land use process?            
The project will follow a Type 3 land use review process. This project has two Land Use Reviews – Historic Resources and Environmental – which will be consolidated into one application package and will be heard together by the Historic Landmarks Commission.

Once the Water Bureau submits the application, there is a three-week period for the Bureau of Development Services (BDS) to determine whether more information is needed in order to make a decision. The Water Bureau will provide further information as requested. When BDS determines that it has enough information, and declares the application complete, BDS will then arrange for a public hearing before the Historic Landmarks Commission about seven weeks later.

When BDS issues notice of the hearing, the public comment period opens. Interested community members and other stakeholders can submit written comments to BDS at 1900 SW Fourth Ave, Suite 5000 Portland, OR 97204 and can offer testimony at the hearing.

Why is the City doing this project?           
As part of a federal water quality mandate called the Long Term 2 Enhanced Surface Water Treatment Rule, the Water Bureau is required to disconnect the park’s open reservoirs from the water distribution system by December 31, 2015. This project will help satisfy the rule’s requirements. The bureau is building new underground reservoirs elsewhere to provide in-town drinking water storage.

What is the history of the reservoirs in this park?          
In 1888, the Water Commission (which eventually became Portland Water Bureau) purchased land on Mt. Tabor to be part of the new system bringing water to town from the Bull Run. In 1894, the Water Bureau constructed Reservoir 1. Reservoirs 5 and 6 were completed in 1911. The City of Portland designated Mt. Tabor as a park in 1908.  In 2008, Council passed an updated management plan for areas managed by PWB and PP&R.

What is the budget for the project?
As of the adopted FY 2014-15 budget, the total project cost was estimated at $3.9 million over several years. 

 Fiscal Year (FY)

 Project Costs

Previous Fiscal Years (Fiscal Years run from July 1 – June 30. For example, the 2012-13 Fiscal Year runs from July 1 2012 to June 30 2013)

$     670,838

FY 2013-14

$     225,000

FY 2014-15

$  1,140,000

FY 2015-16

$  1,900,000


$  3,944,838

How will trees in the park be affected by this work? Has PWB worked with PP&R to minimize the effects?
The Portland Water Bureau (PWB) has arranged this project to have as little impact on the trees in the park as possible.  This project is likely to affect 31 trees. Twenty-six of these will be removed.  Fourteen of the trees that will be removed are in the NW corner of the dog park.   Ten others are south of Reservoir 1, where a new vault will be needed.  The Water Bureau will try to save as many of the affected trees as possible but project impacts are difficult to predict. To mitigate for the impacted trees, the Water Bureau will plant about 65 native trees in the park (along with shrubs) and about 1000 trees elsewhere in the city as part of this project.

The mitigation planting area in Mt. Tabor Park is in an area free of underground infrastructure, such as pipes and vaults. The 65 native plants will be planted between SE Reservoir Loop Drive and the Upper Water Bureau Access Road. The areas available for planting of native trees and shrubs within the park are limited, primarily as a result of the Mt. Tabor Revegetation Project implemented since 2011 by Bureau of Environmental Services (BES), Portland Parks and Recreation (PPR) and the Friends of Mt. Tabor Park.  This coordinated effort has resulted in the planting of almost 35,000 native plants throughout Mt. Tabor Park and control of invasive species.

How is PWB coordinating with the Portland Parks & Recreation?      
PWB and PP&R are working together to minimize construction impacts to the park, reduce inconveniences for park visitors, decrease tree impacts, preserve the character of the park, and coordinate where mitigation planting will occur.

How will the dog park be affected? What is PWB doing to minimize impacts to the dog park? 
During construction, the northwest corner of the dog park will be fenced off. A pipe will be placed underground through that corner of the park. Following construction, the ground surface will be restored and planted. For the duration of this process, the dog park will remain open, although the NW corner entrance may change temporarily as the work progresses.

There are five other entrances to the dog park – none of these will be affected. The existing fences around the dog park will remain, except where temporary fencing is replaced by construction fencing. Following construction, the temporary fence will be removed. Access along the gravel road from Lincoln will be limited during construction.

What is going to happen to the “long nursery block” where the Community Garden is?
This part of the park is under the management of the Portland Parks & Recreation (PP&R). PP&R recently announced that it is discontinuing the tree nursery that has been operated there. PWB has no plans for the long block site and this project will not affect it.

How will this affect my commute?
SE Lincoln east of SE 60th Avenue, SE Lincoln within the park, and SE Harrison Drive in the park will be affected by construction. These roads will be affected when the pipe line is being installed. Residences on SE Lincoln will be provided local access and able to get to and from their homes. East and west traffic traveling through the park will be detoured for about a month during pipe construction in SE Lincoln in the park.

How does this affect the playground area?          
There is no construction near the playground areas.

Is this work reversible?      
All of the work on the historic structures can be reversed without damage. The reservoirs cannot be re-connected to provide drinking water to the distribution system unless existing state and federal laws and regulations change.

Will it still be possible to fill the reservoirs with water once they're disconnected from the drinking water system?            
Yes. PWB will add valves and backflow preventers to the existing pipes to allow the reservoirs to be filled by the existing large-diameter pipes. These devices will meet the technical requirement which mandates that water from the reservoirs cannot flow into the drinking water distribution system.

Who is going to maintain the reservoirs after they are disconnected? 
The reservoirs are PWB assets and PWB will continue to maintain them.

What is planned for the reservoirs after they’re disconnected?
Commissioner Fritz will lead the public involvement process for the future of the reservoirs, and has not yet indicated exactly when the process will begin. Updates will be posted to both the Water Bureau and Parks Bureau websites, and the City will send out public notices.

PWB will continue to use the site for the pipes, pump station, Reservoir 7, and other distribution facilities that are not affected by the LT2 rule. (Reservoir 7 is not affected by the LT2 rule because it is enclosed.)

Where will the staging areas for this project be?
There will be several small staging areas. Maps in the left side bar of the website show these areas graphically:

  • A triangular space adjacent to the SE Lincoln Street entrance.
  • On SE Lincoln within the park, downhill from the main work area.
  • At the junction of SE Lincoln and SE Harrison south of Reservoir 1.
  • At a construction area that includes staging southwest of Reservoir 1 where the Conduit 3-Conduit 4 intertie and above-ground vault will be constructed.
  • Between Reservoirs 5 and 6 in the open space at the base of the stairs.
  • Along SE 60th Avenue near SE Hawthorne Boulevard    

When will construction work take place?
In most construction projects, work hours are typically Monday through Friday between 7 a.m. and 6 p.m. There may be intermittent weekends or night work if necessary.

How will the roads and trails in the park be affected by construction?
Some of the roads and trails in the park will be temporarily closed or re-routed. SE Lincoln in the park will be closed while the pipeline work is taking place in it. The trail between Reservoirs 5 and 6 will temporarily be closed a short distance below the bottom of the stairs while work is done in the Tabor Pump Station area. Other trails near Reservoir 1 and on a gravel service road from Reservoir 1 to Reservoir 5 will be closed while work is done near or in them. Following construction, all disturbance areas will be restored to their original contours, and the surfaces will be repaired to match the existing surfaces.