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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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Maintaining Water Quality in Portland’s Neighborhoods, Mile by Mile

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The Portland Water Bureau works year-round to deliver high quality drinking water to its customers. One of the regular maintenance tasks that occurs throughout the city, neighborhood by neighborhood, is unidirectional flushing or UDF.

Unfiltered systems like Portland need to routinely clean the network of pipes to improve water quality. Over time, very fine sediment and organic matter from the Bull Run settle out of the water and accumulate in the bottom of the pipes. Unidirectional flushing gets those sediments out by forcing water in the pipes to flow at much higher speeds than normal. Flushing crews temporarily close valves to isolate sections of pipe creating one-way flow and increased velocity, then the water and any sediments in the pipes are flushed out through an open fire hydrant. UDF completed in 2014

The UDF crew has finished flushing in the northwest heights and parts of Forest Park neighborhoods. The area served was roughly from NW Lambert St south to Cornell Rd and Skyline Blvd/Ramsey west to Mill Pond Rd. More than 15 miles of 4, 6 and 8 inch water mains were flushed in under four months by a two person crew.

So far this year, more than 43 miles of water mains have been flushed in southwest and northwest Portland neighborhoods. Click on map image to view downloadable pdf file.

Water Bureau Submits Land Use Review Application for Washington Park Reservoir Improvements Project; Public Comment Period & Hearing in January 2015

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In order to comply with federal and state mandates, and ensure a healthy, resilient, and secure water system, the Water Bureau is moving forward with a project to update the Washington Park reservoir site. 

On December 15, 2014, the Water Bureau submitted the first of two Land Use Review applications for the proposed Washington Park Reservoir Improvements Project. In January 2015, BDS will issue a notice of public hearing and open the public comment period.

The Water Bureau’s Washington Park Reservoir Improvements Project proposes to build a new below-ground reservoir in the same general footprint as the existing upper Reservoir 3, with a reflecting pool on top. The lower Reservoir 4 basin and the slope to the west are needed to provide landslide abatement; the slope will be restored to its pre-reservoir condition. Reservoir 4 will be disconnected from the public drinking water system and a lowland habitat area/bioswale and a reflecting pool are also proposed in the Reservoir 4 basin. Work will primarily be within the Historic District.


Proposed project


Proposed improvements to Reservoir 3 (left) and Reservoir 4 (right)

Land Use Application #1
The initial Land Use application (Type IV, heard and decided by City Council following a public hearing) proposes the removal of the Weir Building (screen house), portions of lower Reservoir 4’s basin, and upper Reservoir 3’s basin. The gatehouses, dams, and other historic features will be protected and restored.

Land Use Application Package
In spring 2015, a second Land Use application package with two components will be submitted for construction of a new covered reservoir, reflecting pools, lowland habitat area/bioswale, walkways, and historic preservation and rehabilitation actions. The features, which are described in the first Type IV land use application, will offer the public enhanced access to the new surface water features and classically-designed gatehouses, dams, and related structures. These two reviews will be Type III. The Historic Resource Review will be heard and decided by the Historic Landmarks Commission following a public hearing. The Conditional Use and Environmental Review will be heard and decided by a Hearings Officer following a public hearing.

Before construction begins and permits can be issued for the work, the Land Use Review applications must be approved.

Community Sounding Board MeetingPublic Involvement
The applications are a result of a robust public involvement process that included multiple public open houses and nine Community Sounding Board (CSB) meetings that guided design for the required visible features of a new reservoir in Washington Park.  

CSB members included representatives from:

  • Portland Parks & Recreation
  • Neighbors West-Northwest District Coalition
  • Arlington Heights, Goose Hollow Foothills League, Northwest District, Northwest Heights, and Sylvan-Highlands Neighborhood Associations

Portland’s preservation organizations, including the American Institute of Architects (AIA) and the Historic Preservation League of Oregon, also participated in the public involvement process to help determine the future of the historic site.

The project addresses four major reservoir issues:

  • Recurrent landslide damage
  • Compliance with federal law
  • Seismic vulnerability
  • Deterioration of the 120 year-old structures

A copy of the land use applications submitted to BDS will be posted on the project webpage at www.portlandoregon.gov/water/wpreservoirs/LUR1. The Bureau of Development Services maintains the official application record, which tracks updates and revisions over time.

Additional Information & Contacts

  • Project Information: For detailed information, visit the project webpage.
  • Land Use Review process: The Bureau of Development Services administers the land use review process. For more information about this process, please their website or call 503-823-7300.
  • Project Questions: Contact the Water Bureau Public Information staff by e-mail or at 503-823-3028.

Portland Water Selects Innovyze Smart Water Network Modeling Technology

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The Portland Water Bureau has selected InfoWater software to support the bureau’s water distribution network modeling and management needs.

The new software, developed by Innovyze, will replace software the Water Bureau has utilized for 20 years and will further enable the bureau to address critical planning, design, operational, and water quality issues. 

InfoWater is an example of hydraulic network analysis software. This type of specialized software will offer Water Bureau staff in the Operational Analysis, Engineering Planning, Engineering Design, and Water Quality Compliance Groups the tools to: 

  • Model the water system’s pipe network and simulate its behavior.  For example, it can simulate what pressure and flow should be at any point in the system, based on given operating parameters at one moment in time (which valves are open/closed, how much water is in the reservoirs and tanks, etc.). 
  • Simulate the water system’s pipe network behavior over an extended time period.  The InfoWater software will be able to simulate time-based operation of the full water system over a 10- to 15-day period. This capability is very important for simulating water age within the system, or for determining how flow from our Groundwater source might travel through the system during a transition, for example.
  • Model and analyze system behavior for shutdowns, water quality events, and operational changes.
  • Assist in designing new infrastructure.

Additional benefits of the InfoWater software include: 

  • Runs inside the GIS system, offering the convenience of GIS tools.  For example, the older software didn’t store street names, so when searching for a specific address in the network model, both systems had to be open side-by-side and to visually compare shapes. The GIS provides many other spatial-analysis and mapping tools that the older software didn’t offer.
  • Directly imports and exports network model data in EPANET format.  EPANET is basic hydraulic network modeling software available for free from the US EPA.  The EPANET file format has become the world standard for exchanging network model files.  Because the old software was not able to read and write EPANET files, Operational Analysis staff developed a translator that lets them move data from the old format into EPANET, where the new software can read it.
  • The new software provides many bonus features, such as automated fire-flow calculations, energy cost analysis, and valve criticality analysis. 

According to staff in the Operations Group, InfoWater will offer the Water Bureau valuable tools for planning, designing, and operating the infrastructure.  The Water Bureau will be transitioning to the new software over the next year or so – learning the new software and moving data links from the old to the new format. This is definitely an investment in many years of water system excellence. 

The Portland Water Bureau joins Seattle Public Utilities, City of Atlanta, and many other large water utilities in using this product.

Alder Creek Fish Passage Projects Completed

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Implementation of the Bull Run Water Supply Habitat Conservation Plan (HCP) reached another milestone this summer with the completion of a second fish ladder outside of the Bull Run watershed on Alder Creek, which is a large tributary to the Sandy River. 

In the HCP, the Portland Water Bureau committed to constructing fish ladders at two locations on Alder Creek to improve passage for steelhead, coho salmon, and other native fish. Last year, a fish ladder was installed at the waterfall under the Highway 26 Bridge. This summer, the Water Bureau, in cooperation with the City of Sandy and state and federal agencies, completed the installation of a second fish ladder further upstream at the City of Sandy’s water intake structure. This location was chosen because the water diversion structure had blocked passage for juvenile native fish like steelhead, coho salmon, and trout during the summer months.

 
Before construction, a splash-board dam blocked juvenile fish at the City of Sandy’s water intake structure.

The fish ladder, consisting of four pre-cast concrete vaults, was attached to the existing diversion structure. Two vaults were inserted in a slot behind a concrete wall on the right bank (facing downstream) and rest on the existing concrete apron. Two other vaults rest on a poured concrete foundation and connect to the other vaults.  Altogether, the vaults serve as steps with flowing water.  They have notches and stainless steel weir plates to provide appropriate fish passage conditions. 


After construction, the completed fish ladder allows fish passage during the summer months.

The two regulating agencies that provided input into and approved the fish passage design for this project were the federal National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) and the state of Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife. The project design was by Firwood Design Group located in Sandy, Oregon.

The Water Bureau will monitor the two fish ladders on Alder Creek to see how they work under various flow conditions. The fish passage improvements at the site were designed to withstand a 100-year flood event.

This project is one of 49 measures the City committed to implement when it approved the Bull Run Water Supply HCP in October 2008. The HCP is a 50-year plan to protect and improve aquatic habitat in the lower Bull Run River and throughout the Sandy River basin while continuing to manage the Bull Run watershed as Portland’s primary water supply.

City of Portland’s 28th Annual Fix-It Fair Season Starts this Weekend!

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Don’t miss the first of three Fix-It Fairs of the 2014-2015 season this Saturday, November 22 at Parkrose High School, 12003 NE Shaver Street, from 9:30 am to 3:00 pm.

These free City of Portland events are designed to help you create a healthy home while saving you money and connecting you to helpful resources in your community. While you are there, don’t forget to visit the Portland Water Bureau’s table where our staff can advise you on ways to save water and lower your bill.

What you'll find at a Fix-It Fair
Ongoing exhibits and hourly workshops on topics such as:

  • Water and energy savings
  • Safe and healthy home
  • Food and nutrition
  • Neighborhood and community resources
  • Recycling
  • Weatherizing your home
  • Gardening and growing your own food
  • Yard care and composting
  • Free blood lead testing

PLUS!

  • Free giveaways
  • Hourly door prizes
  • Free professional childcare
  • Free lunch
  • Free bike repair

2014-15 Fix-It Fair Season

Saturday, November 22, 2014
9:30 a.m. – 3 p.m. 
Parkrose High School 
12003 NE Shaver St
Portland, OR 97220
Brochure

Saturday, January 24, 2015
9:30 a.m. – 3 p.m. 
Rosa Parks Elementary School  
8960 N Woolsey Ave
Portland, OR 97203

Saturday, February 21, 2015
9:30 a.m. – 3 p.m. 
David Douglas High School 
1001 SE 135th Ave
Portland, OR 97233

Additional Resources

  • Visit the Bureau of Planning and Sustainability’s webpage for additional resources and information on the upcoming Fix-It Fair.
  • Portland Water Bureau customers can get water efficiency information at any time by calling 503-823-4527. Visit us online at www.portlandoregon.gov/water/efficiency.

Hope to see you there!

Judi Ranton
Water Efficiency