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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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Mt. Tabor Reservoir Project Moves into Land Use Review Phase

By December 31, 2015, the City of Portland must disconnect the three open reservoirs in Mt. Tabor Park from the city’s drinking water system. This is necessary to comply with federal Environmental Protection Agency drinking water regulations for water quality compliance. 

To meet this schedule, the Portland Water Bureau’s Mt. Tabor Reservoir Adjustments Project must begin construction work inside the park in early 2015. This work will create the gaps between pipes required by regulations. These gaps will separate the reservoirs from the city’s water distribution system. This requires that some pipes be cut and the ends plugged. Pipes will remain in place to fill, drain and clean the reservoirs.

A new pipeline will be constructed to allow water to bypass the reservoirs and be delivered to the water distribution and supply systems. Also, three non-historic vaults will be removed and new underground vaults installed in other locations.

In response to public requests for more detailed information about the project, the Water Bureau conducted guided tours of the work sites inside the park. Diagram signs were also placed at each of the work locations for self-guided tours.

The tours were designed to show neighbors and park users the exact locations of proposed project activities, resolve any concerns about the work’s impact on that area, and to solicit suggestions on how the bureau might do the work differently. As a result of feedback and input received during the tours, Water Bureau project team members made several modifications suggested by the public. These changes have been incorporated into the proposed project plans.  

On September 26, 2014, the Portland Water Bureau submitted its Type 3 Land Use Review application to the City’s Bureau of Development Services (BDS). It included both a Historic Resources Review and an Environmental Review.  The BDS process will include a public comment period and a public hearing.

Land Use Review process documents can be reviewed by visiting the Water Bureau’s website at http://www.portlandoregon.gov/water/mttabor and click on Land Use Review Process.

The future use of the Mt. Tabor reservoir sites is not part of this project. A separate public process, led by Portland Parks & Recreation, will take place, but has not yet been scheduled.

Project Facts:

  • The Water Bureau expects to maintain the structures and the property within its management area unless directed otherwise by the City Council.
  • The pipe network required to fill, drain and clean the reservoirs will remain in place.
  • None of this disconnection work will make permanent non-reversible alterations to the open reservoirs or other historic structures.
  • The Water Bureau developed project designs to minimize the number of trees potentially damaged or removed. Every effort during construction will be taken to protect trees.
  • The Water Bureau is working closely with Portland Parks & Recreation staff to develop a mitigation planting plan to help offset tree loss.
  • Mt. Tabor’s dog park will remain open.
  • A portion of the park area near the small Reservoir #1 will be closed intermittently as necessary to make pipe connections,
  • The park’s SE Lincoln Street entrance and SE Lincoln Drive within the park will be closed during pipe construction for up to 4 to 5 months.
  • Water Bureau staff will keep park users and the local neighborhood associations informed of the project’s schedule and work activities.

Tim Hall
Public Information 

Oregon Health Authority Completes Routine Inspection of Water Bureau System

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Oregon Health Authority officials and Water Bureau Operating Engineer Brian Robison during the inspection of a water tank in NW Portland. 
Oregon Health Authority officials and Water Bureau Operating Engineer Brian Robison during the inspection of a water tank in NW Portland.

On August 14, 2014, the State of Oregon completed a routine inspection of the Portland Water Bureau drinking water system. As required by the Oregon Health Authority (OHA), Portland’s drinking water system undergoes a thorough, on-site inspection every three years. Portland’s last inspection was in 2011. 

The goal of this extensive inspection, also called the Sanitary Survey, is for state regulators from the Oregon Health Authority’s Drinking Water Services to determine if the Water Bureau’s system meets all operational requirements to provide safe drinking water. This includes identifying any conditions that may pose a sanitary or public health risk.

State officials met with Water Bureau staff throughout June, July, and August to evaluate all sanitary aspects of the drinking water system. From quizzing staff about operating procedures to visually inspecting water storage tanks, well equipment, and treatment facilities, the state spent over 55 hours taking an in-depth look at the system.

Now that the inspection is complete, the State will put together a report with the results of the inspection, a process that can take several months. As with all past inspections, the Water Bureau will address and fix any required or recommended improvements outlined in the 2014 inspection report.

To learn more about water quality, visit www.portlandoregon.gov/water/waterquality.

Sarah Messier
Water Quality

Google Ad Not Affiliated with Portland Water Bureau

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Some of our customers have noticed that when they type our web address, portlandoregon.gov/water, into Google, the Portland Water Bureau is not their first hit.

Instead, an advertisment appears at the top for a third-party billing service. The site, which is unaffiliated with the Portland Water Bureau, states it allows customers to “Pay your water bill online now” and “avoid late fees.” The ad is marked with the word “ad” in a yellow box.

The Portland Water Bureau wants to remind our customers that such offers are not associated with the City of Portland, nor does the Portland Water Bureau have any connection with such companies, or any other third-party biller. 

To avoid viewing these ads at all, you may want to download and install an ad blocking program.

You can still pay your utility bill online at the Portland Water Bureau’s official website, which carries our Benson Bubbler logo and the City of Portland’s seal. Simply visit www.portlandoregon.gov/water and click, “Pay my water/sewer bill.” After you log on, you can pay your bill online and you will not be charged a service fee for the convenience of paying online.

If you are ever concerned about matters related to your water service, please call Customer Service at 503-823-7770.

Jaymee Cuti
Public Information

Interstate Renovation Project Makes Steady Progress

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Water from the Bull Run watershed is delivered to the taps of more than 900,000 Oregonian's through a complex system of reservoirs, tanks, pipes, pumps, and valves.

The critical work of maintaining Portland's 225-square-mile water supply system is based from the Portland Water Bureau's Interstate Maintenance Facility, located near the Rose Quarter on N. Interstate Avenue.

This 11-acre facility accommodates approximately 300 employees. It includes a water control center, water quality laboratory, material storage area, vehicle parking, and administrative offices. Construction and maintenance field personnel and associated heavy construction equipment are also supported and staged from this facility.

To rehabilitate and bring the aging facilities up to current safety, seismic, and other codes, the bureau teamed with Hoffman Construction Company in 2012 to begin the Interstate Renovation Project. Over a four-year period, the project includes the construction of two new buildings to replace the 85-year-old Maintenance Building that served as the main office and warehouse. Planned site improvements will then bring the property up to current code requirements for storm water management and landscaping.

The completed SS&W building, and first stages of construction of the Maintenance & Operations building, including shear wall installation. 
The completed SS&W building, and first stages of construction of the Maintenance & Operations building, including shear wall installation.

During Phase 1 of 2, a 28,000-square-foot Shops, Stores & Warehouse (SS&W) building was constructed along N. Tillamook Avenue. The building will provide space for staff offices and public meeting areas, craft workshops, materials and warehouse supplies storage area, and a loading dock. Bureau staff are now in the process of moving and organizing supplies and equipment onto new storage racks and shelving in the SS&W building.

Piles are driven, shear walls installed, foundation is poured, and steel frame are being installed on the Maintenance & Operations building. 
Piles are driven, shear walls installed, foundation is poured, and steel frame are being installed on the Maintenance & Operations building.

Exterior of Maintenance & Operations building, view from N Tillamook Street. 
Exterior of Maintenance & Operations building, view from N Tillamook Street.

Currently in Phase 2, crews are building a 38,000-square-foot Maintenance and Operations building that will provide office space and conference and training facilities. Progress is steady; the foundation has been poured, shear walls and steel framing installed, and the roof will be in place before the fall rains. This building is expected to be complete in fall 2016.

Employees discuss how to best organize supplies and equipment in the new small stores area.  Interior of main storeroom.
Left: Employees discuss how to best organize supplies and equipment in the new small stores area.
Right: Interior of main storeroom.

For additional information on the project, including photos, project background, and a detailed explanation of the two phases of work, visit http://www.portlandoregon.gov/water/interstate.

Terry Black
Public Information

Water Quality At Home: “Dirty” Water

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The City of Portland is fortunate to have a source water supply of such high quality that filtration is not required as part of the water treatment process. Like any unfiltered water supply, over time a very fine layer of sediment can deposit along the bottom of water distribution mains. This harmless natural sediment consists of organic material from the Bull Run watershed, and on rare occasions it can get stirred up and cause discolored water. When this happens, customers commonly describe their water as “dirty” or muddy in color. 

What causes a dirty water event?
Sediment can be stirred up when the direction or flow of water changes in the water mains. Common causes include hydrant use, hydrant replacement, valve turning, routine maintenance, firefighting, main breaks, or nearby construction. 

Is the water contaminated?  
There are no health hazards associated with the sediment in the water.  The sediment is always in our system but is only visible when a change in flow is enough to disturb the sediment.  Customers may choose to drink bottled water while they wait for the discoloration to clear.  

What should customers do if they experience “dirty” water?
In most cases the water will clear on its own within two hours or less. If your water is discolored:

  • Use the water to flush toilets, but avoid running the water through filters, hot water heaters, and washing machines.
  • Wait an hour for the system to settle, then run water at one tap for up to five minutes to see if it clears.  If it does not clear, wait another hour and try again. When the water runs clear, run water throughout the house to flush any sediment that may have been drawn into your pipes. 
  • If the water does not clear in a few hours, or if there is also a significant loss of pressure, call the Water Line at 503-823-7525
  • To help the Water Line monitor these events, customers can call and report a dirty water event as soon as they notice the discoloration.

To learn more about home water quality, visit www.portlandoregon.gov/water/waterquality or call the Water Line Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. at 503-823-7525. 

KT LaBadie
Water Quality