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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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Climate Change

  • Portland's rain-fed water supply Portland’s primary drinking water supply in the Bull Run Watershed depends mostly on rain rather than snow, making it more resilient to warming temperatures.

  • Planning for summer supply The Bull Run reservoirs draw down during the summer. Fall and spring rains are important for reservoir refill (Click image for Summer Supply Planning information).

  • Future Northwest climate Climate models project a warmer future Northwest with drier summers, wetter winters and heavier rainfall during storm events (Click image for Climate Change in the Northwest report).

  • Portland's groundwater supply increases climate resilience The city's backup groundwater supply increases the water system’s resilience to climate change (Click image for groundwater information).

  • Portland's water demand is decreasing Total water use decreased an average 1% per year while population grew an average 2% per year since 2003 (Click for demand and consumption history).

  • Meeting future water demand Portland’s water system is expected to continue meeting customer needs into the future, based on 30-year population and demand projections.

  • Snow and future stream temperatures Snow keeps stream temperatures cold for salmon. Warmer temperatures could lead to less snow in the Bull Run Watershed in the future.

  • Climate variability Northwest climate will continue to experience annual and seasonal variability, even as the long-term climate shifts (Click image for National Climate Assessment).

Planning for the future:

The Portland Water Bureau is actively committed to understanding and planning for climate change impacts to the City's drinking water system by:

  • Applying the best available climate science and working with research institutions and climate scientists to assess how climate change could affect the Bull Run Watershed (the City's primary surface water supply) and future water supply planning;

  • Partnering with large drinking water utilities (through the Water Utility Climate Alliance) and other water utility groups to develop and share climate information, science, and decision support tools;

  • Developing strategies to prepare for climate change as part of city-wide efforts, including the City of Portland and Multnomah County's Climate Change Preparation Strategy and Risk and Vulnerabilities Assessment;

  • Calculating annual carbon emissions in a Carbon Footprint Report and implementing actions to meet the City's Climate Action Plan goals and reduce the bureau's contribution to climate change.


Climate Risks to Built Assets & Infrastructure

In 2015, PWB conducted a survey of 18 national and international water utilities to understand how climate risks and extreme weather events are likely to affect built assets and infrastructure, and how utilities are responding by building new infrastructure, replacing or repairing assets, and changing operations. The final report from that survey is available here.

Piloting Utility Modeling Applications (PUMA)

PWB worked with Northwest climate scientists through the Climate Impacts Research Consortium (CIRC) to develop customized hydrologic and climate modeling tools for the Bull Run watershed. This project was conducted in collaboration with the Water Utility Climate Alliance and is called Piloting Utility Modeling Applications (PUMA). The objective of PUMA was for four water utilities (Portland, Seattle, New York, and Tampa Bay) to hand-pick and develop locally appropriate tools, projections and approaches to understand the impact of climate change on drinking water supplies. PWB will use the developed tools to inform long-term water supply planning, summer supply and regular operations, and stream temperature management in Portland’s water system on an ongoing basis.

For more information contact:

Kavita Heyn, Climate Science Coordinator
kavita.heyn@portlandoregon.gov


Learn more:

A Rain-Fed Water Supply

Portland’s primary drinking water supply, the Bull Run Watershed, depends on rain rather than snow, making it more resilient to warming temperatures.

Planning for Summer Supply
The Bull Run reservoirs drawdown during the summer. Fall and spring rains are important for reservoir refill.

Future Northwest Climate
Climate models project a warmer future Northwest with drier summers, wetter winters and heavier rainfall during storm events.

Groundwater Supply Increases Climate Resilience
Portland's backup groundwater supply increases the water system’s resilience to climate change.

Meeting Future Water Demand
Portland’s water system is expected to continue meeting customer needs into the future, based on 30-year population and demand projections.

Snow and Future Stream Temperatures
Snow keeps stream temperatures cold for salmon. Warmer temperatures could lead to less snow in the Bull Run Watershed in the future.

Climate Variability
Northwest climate will continue to be annually and seasonally variable, even as the long-term climate shifts.