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Portland Water Bureau

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

GENERAL INFORMATION: 503-823-7404

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

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History of Mount Tabor

  • Reservoir #5's capacity is 49 million gallons with a maximum depth of 39 feet and a 0.4 mile walking circumference.

  • Reservoir #5 is a kidney-shaped reservoir partway up the slope on the western flank of Mount Tabor built in 1911.

  • Reservoir #6 is located below and to the west of Reservoir #5 and parallel to SE 60th Avenue. A wall separates this rectangular reservoir into north and south basins.

  • Reservoir #1 is nestled at the top of the southern flank of Mt.Tabor Park. It fills what was once a natural small ravine.

Mt. Tabor Park is a historic community asset and an important part of our parks system.


The Portland’s three open reservoirs at Mt. Tabor are part of the Portland’s historic switch from Willamette River water to high-quality water from the Bull Run watershed 120 years ago. Even then, water storage was a key part of meeting a growing population’s drinking water demands.

When it was built in 1894, Reservoir 1 was seen not only as a water storage facility but also as a recreational destination. It was the design of this first reservoir that led city leaders to designate Mt. Tabor a city park in 1910. Reservoir 5 and 6 – with similar designs – were finished in 1911.

The reservoir structures and buildings are historically significant because of their role in Portland’s early water system. The reservoir sites were nominated for inclusion on the National Register of Historic Places and received designation as the Mt. Tabor Park Reservoirs Historic District in 2004.

Today, America’s few remaining open finished drinking water reservoirs are either being decommissioned, fitted with water treatment methods, or transformed into covered facilities due to stricter public health and drinking water regulations. After many years of lobbying for an exemption to these federal regulations, Portland must now move toward compliance.

At the direction of the City Council, new seismically strengthened underground reservoirs at Powell Butte and Kelly Butte will provide the underground water storage needed to serve our community.

The community conversation to develop a plan for the long-term future of this part of Mt. Tabor Park will be led by Portland Parks & Recreation Commissioner Amanda Fritz. The schedule for this process has not yet been determined.

In early 2015, the Portland Water Bureau will begin the decommissioning process in order to meet the Environmental Protection Agency’s December 31, 2015 regulatory deadline. The enclosed Reservoir 7 near the crest of Mt. Tabor will continue to be used to store and deliver water.