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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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Keep Water Handy this Fourth of July to Safely Extinguish Fireworks

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Stay safe!Fireworks during the Fourth of July are a tradition, but did you know that more fires are reported on this day than on any other of the year in the United States?

Nearly half of these fires are caused by fireworks.

The Portland Water Bureau encourages you to take extra precaution to ensure your fourth of July holiday will be a blast but hazard free:

  • Keep a water hose, with the water turned on, nearby to douse fireworks or to put out fires. If you don’t have a hose, keep a bucket of water handy.
  • NEVER try to relight a firework that does not go off or misfires. Douse it with water.
  • Light fireworks on paved surfaces, as far away from buildings and flammable vegetation as you can get.
  • NEVER light fireworks inside a house, building, or garage.
  • NEVER aim fireworks at other people, pets, cars, buildings, or trees and bushes.
  • Use only legal fireworks approved for Oregon, and always use them as directed.
  • Never attempt to alter or combine firework devices.

For additional information on using fireworks safely and the associated laws and regulations in Oregon, visit the Oregon State Fire Marshal’s website.

Our Water Supply

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Bull Run WatershedThis past weekend saw temperatures in Portland reach over 90 degrees with forecasts predicting the heat wave to continue throughout the week.

As Portlanders sip on their glasses of ice water to deal with the heat, you might have questions about our water supply and whether we have enough.

Portland is not experiencing a water supply shortage, nor do we expect to this summer.

Portland’s primary water source, the Bull Run watershed, gets most of its water from rain, not snow.

The Bull Run gets approximately 135 inches of rain each year, about three to four times more rain than we get here in town. Thanks to good planning, the Portland area has another high-quality water source in the Columbia South Shore Well Filed. Both the Bull Run and Columbia South Shore Well Field meet or surpass federal standards for safe drinking water. Portland’s groundwater source can be used in addition to the Bull Run supply during dry periods.

The Portland Water Bureau will continue to carefully monitor water levels, weather forecasts, and water use patterns to ensure clean water for our customers. We will continue to update our customers throughout the summer about water supply.

Jaymee Cuti
Public Information

NEWS RELEASE 06/29/15: Portland Water Bureau Returns to 100 Percent Bull Run Water

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The Portland Water Bureau returned to 100 percent Bull Run water today, June 29, after blending a small portion of water from its Columbia South Shore Well Field into the water distribution system.

The Water Bureau began blending groundwater with Bull Run water on June 11 so scheduled work could be completed to strengthen interties on its largest conduit. This work was completed ahead of schedule, allowing the Water Bureau to return to 100 percent Bull Run sooner than anticipated. While this work occurred, the bureau also took the opportunity to perform its annual maintenance operation of the groundwater system. By routinely doing this operation, the bureau ensures the reliability of the system when needed, either in an emergency or to meet seasonal supply demands.

Due to careful planning, Portland is fortunate to have access to two excellent water sources that allow the City to be prepared to meet the range of supply and demand conditions that could occur this summer. Both the Bull Run and Columbia South Shore Well Field are high-quality water sources that meet or surpass all federal and state drinking water regulations.

It will take one to eight days, depending on location, for 100 percent Bull Run water to move through the distribution system and reach customers.

While public notification is not required, the Water Bureau informs the media and sensitive users, as a practice, when it activates and discontinues use of groundwater.

To learn more about the Columbia South Shore Well Field, visit www.portlandoregon.gov/water/groundwater. Customers with water quality questions are encouraged to contact the Water Line at 503-823-7525.

Western Pond Turtle Found in the Bull Run Watershed

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

In March, a Portland Water Bureau watershed specialist was working in the Bull Run Watershed when he happened upon a turtle crossing the road.

Western pond turtleHe knew immediately that this was a special find, so he hopped out of his rig, measured its shell, and snapped a quick photo of the animal before it continued on its way through the forest.

It turned out that the watershed specialist had found a Western pond turtle (Emys marmorata, sometimes Actinemys marmorata), one of only two native freshwater turtle species in the state. Moreover, the Western pond turtle is a critically sensitive species in Oregon, and is a priority at-risk species for the Oregon Conservation Strategy created by the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW).

According to ODFW, Western pond turtles “are a priority species of conservation concern because they have experienced significant population declines in many parts of their ranges and continue to be highly vulnerable to habitat loss and other anthropogenic (human) impacts.”

The turtle found in March is believed to be the first turtle of any kind ever found in the Bull Run Watershed and the first Western pond turtle found on the Mt Hood National Forest - and what a seemingly odd location.

Western pond turtle Western pond turtle

The turtle was crossing a road at a point where either side is lined with dense forest, nearly a mile from any pond or reservoir. However, although pond turtles seek warm waters and sunlit logs for basking in late spring and summer, in winter they use upland terrestrial habitats where they may hibernate in underground burrows or the forest duff.

Interestingly, Western pond turtles are long lived. They don’t breed until they are seven to 12 years old and may live 50 years or more in the wild.

Weekly Watering Number – An Evapotranspiration Transformation

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Signs of summer – browning lawns, wilted plants, and dry soils – have appeared early this year, and many Portlanders have responded and started to water lawns and gardens.

Weekly Watering Number When watering, it can be hard to know how much to use. Plants lose water through a process called evapotranspiration (ET) which is the combination of water lost through evaporation and from plant transpiration. Generally, the amount of water lost through ET is equal to the amount of water that must be replaced to maintain healthy growing conditions. 

The rate of ET is affected by the amount of sun, wind, air temperature, and other variables. In Portland, it generally takes one-inch  of watering each week during the summer to offset normal ET for lawns.

Take the guesswork out of predicting the needs of your plants by looking at the Weekly Watering Number, a service provided by our partners at the Regional Water Providers Consortium which gives you the amount of water (in inches) your plants will need each week. 

The weekly watering number is updated every Thursday from April-September. It takes into account ET rates according to your zip code. Visit  http://www.conserveh2o.org to see what your plants need today!

Sarah Murphy Santner
Water Efficiency