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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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TRAFFIC ADVISORY 10/15/14: Portland Water Bureau Reopens Northbound Traffic Lanes on SE 162nd Avenue at SE Division Street

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The contractor for the Portland Water Bureau has completed the installation of a large water pipe vault under SE 162th Avenue at SE Division Street. The northbound lanes from SE Division Street are now open to all traffic.

The underground work required that all northbound lanes on SE 162nd Avenue from

SE Division Street be closed for six months.

The contactor has moved the work zone south to SE 162nd Avenue at SE Rhone Street, where pipe connection work will occur inside an existing water vault. This work will impact a short section of one northbound traffic lane, which will be coned around the work zone.

At the end of each work day, the lane will be steel sheeted and reopened. Typically, work hours are 7:00 AM to 4:00 PM, Monday through Friday. This vault work is scheduled to take six to eight weeks to complete.

The vault work is part of the improvements required to connect the city’s new second Powell Butte reservoir to the water system.

For more project information, visit

Tim Hall
Public Information

Plentiful Pirates Pillage Portland Party!

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Aquifer Adventure, Portland Water Bureau’s annual groundwater festival, took place under sunny skies on September 13 in the Columbia South Shore Well Field (CSSWF), which serves as Portland's supplemental water supply.


The event drew 537 pirates of all ages for a fun, educational afternoon. 


Co-hosted by the Portland Water Bureau and Columbia Slough Watershed Council, the event was staffed by 50 volunteers who brought groundwater and natural resources education to the community through a series of games and activities.

Anyone who would like to learn more about the CSSWF is invited to attend Groundwater 101 on November 15. This interactive workshop is presented with a mix of hands-on and classroom-style teaching and is appropriate for adults and high school students aged 14 and up. Get more information and register here.

Fast Facts about the Columbia South Shore Well Field 

The Water Bureau operates a well field capable of producing close to 100 million gallons per day of high quality drinking water. The CSSWF is the second largest water source in the State of Oregon, with about half of the daily capacity of Portland’s Bull Run source. Groundwater from the CSSWF is used as an emergency back up for customers served by the Bull Run supply and also provides supplemental supply during the summer high demand season.

The Columbia South Shore Well Field:

  • Can provide 82-102 million gallons a day of drinking water from 27 wells
  • Meets or exceeds all state and federal drinking water standards
  • Is ideally located to serve as the secondary source of Portland’s drinking water
  • Allows Portland to maintain Bull Run as an unfiltered drinking water source
  • Supplies water during emergencies or to augment Bull Run supply in the summer
  • Is protected from contamination by the Groundwater Protection Program which requires businesses that use harmful chemicals to implement best management practices to prevent spills
  • Spans three cities: Portland, Gresham and Fairview

To access groundwater, wells are drilled into aquifers. Portland groundwater supplies are tapped from three regional aquifers. Learn more at

Save the Date: The History of Clean Drinking Water on OPB on Wednesday, October 15

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Clean drinking water is something that many of us take for granted. In the U.S., we are fortunate to be able to turn on the tap and have clean, potable water any time of the day. However, it hasn’t always been this way.

In 1895, drinking water began flowing from the Bull Run watershed, leading to a substantial decrease in waterborne disease outbreaks. In 1929, the Portland Water Bureau began adding chlorine as a disinfectant, practically eliminating waterborne disease outbreaks. Worldwide, the use of chlorine to treat water has been so effective it is considered as one of the greatest public health innovations in modern history. 

Portland’s story is not unique. In the late-1800s many cities around the U.S., and especially the new cities being built in the West, had to develop new systems to keep sewage and drinking water separate. In an upcoming series on Oregon Public Broadcasting (OPB) titled “How We Got to Now With Steven Johnson,” the first episode “Clean” covers the history of clean drinking water and what mark its importance has left on our world. 

Check out the two minute sneak-peak of “Clean” below. The full episode airs on OPB TV on Wednesday, October 15 at 9:00 pm.

Make it a double feature and watch the OPB Oregon Experience episode “Bull Run that is available online to watch anytime. This Oregon Experience episode covers the history of how the Bull Run River and watershed became and has continued to be Portland’s main drinking water source for the past 120 years. 

Fast facts about Portland’s drinking water treatment process: 

* Portland is one of six large water systems in the U.S. that does not filter its drinking water. Portland meets stringent requirements for remaining an unfiltered water system by having very high quality source water, restricting access to the watershed, and having a watershed protection program. 

* Based on the high quality of water from  the Bull Run, and the efforts in place to protect the watershed, Portland  is not required to treat for Cryptosporidium, a disease-causing microorganism. Portland is the only system in the U.S. with this type of approval.

*  Water treatment is a three step process:

  1. Chlorine is added to initially disinfect the water.
  2. Ammonia is added to form chloramines. Chloramines stays in water longer than chlorine. Using chloramines ensures that disinfection remains adequate throughout the entire distribution system.
  3. Sodium hydroxide is added to increase the pH of the water to reduce corrosion of lead and copper from plumbing systems.

Want more information? Visit the Portland Water Bureau’s Water System webpage to learn more. 

Sarah Messier
Water Quality 

Traffic Impacts in SW Hillsdale Neighborhood Next Week

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A Portland Water Bureau water main installation project will impact traffic on several streets in the Southwest Hills neighborhood next week.

Approximately 300 feet of the left westbound lane of SW Capitol Highway, just east of the intersection of SW Capitol Highway and SW Terwilliger Boulevard, will be closed beginning Monday, October 13, from 7:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. The closure is scheduled to end on Friday October 17, at 3:00 p.m. Pedestrians using the alternate walking trail who wish to cross SW Capitol Highway going south will be guided to the crosswalk by a flagger.

The two northbound lanes of SW Terwilliger Boulevard just north of SW Capitol Highway will remain open but will be reconfigured for construction to occur at the corner.

A short section of SW Burlingame Avenue will be closed to all but local traffic on Monday, October 13. A contractor for the Water Bureau will begin the road restoration work on SW Burlingame Avenue on Monday. The temporary patch over the pipe trench will be removed and permanent asphalt installed. The work is expected to take one day. SW Burlingame Avenue, between SW Chestnut Street and SW Burlingame Terrace, will be open to local traffic only. No pedestrian access will be allowed during the street restoration work.

Motorists are urged to use alternate routes, remember to drive slowly, and exercise caution when traveling in the construction area.

Project information can be found online at 

Terry Black
Public Outreach

Water Bureau FY 2015-16 Budget Development Now Underway

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The Portland Water Bureau has started work on the development of its Fiscal Year (FY) 2015-16 budget.

As the steward of the city’s 118-year old water system, the bureau works to develop and recommend to the Portland City Council and our customers a budget that allows it to continue to meet its mission of providing clean, safe, and affordable drinking water to our customers.

A Budget Advisory Committee (BAC), comprised of representatives of key stakeholders that include members of the community and labor representatives, will work alongside Water Bureau Administrator David Shaff and bureau directors and managers to develop the annual budget per City of Portland guidelines. The Portland Utility Review Board (PURB) and the Citizens Utility Board (CUB) will also participate in the process.

Together, the BAC members and bureau staff review, discuss, deliberate and work to develop a consensus budget. Their challenge is to propose a budget that balances the infrastructure and service needs of the city’s aging and complex water system, complies with state and federal regulations relating to clean water, and is understanding of the economic issues facing both residential and business customers throughout the Portland metropolitan area.

The BAC will begin meeting in October 2014. All meetings will be open to the public, and there is an opportunity for public comment.

For more information on the budget development process, upcoming meetings, and how you can provide your feedback to the Water Bureau, visit

Public Information