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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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PSU Capstone Students Praise “Portland’s Water”

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Bull Run watershed tour for a PSU Capstone class 
Bull Run watershed tour for a PSU Capstone class

The Portland Water Bureau has been providing support for the Portland State University (PSU) Senior Capstone class about the Portland’s water system for more than 12 consecutive terms. The course is taught by historian Catherine Howells, whose inimitable passion has made the class very popular. Water Bureau staff lecture throughout each term to provide depth to the class content. These students’ comments below sum up the general feelings of the more than 200 students that have taken the course:

“It was interesting learning about the struggle of removing the open reservoirs in Mount Tabor because of the neighborhood involvement. We as the general public lack this kind of information and we make wrong assumptions about institutions like the Water Bureau. The field trip to the Bull Run was the best educational experience I have ever had. It helped me picture the historical facts of the water system in Portland.”

“I was transformed from someone who knew nothing about Portland’s unique water system to the most knowledgeable person in the room on the subject. This course opened my eyes to something so incredible and special, and its influence has inspired me to think about other ways in which I can learn about the community around me.” 

Student teams develop conceptual outreach projects to share information about the city’s water and the Water Bureau each term. Student creativity knows no bounds as they pore through archives, compare Portland to other cities, and draw on their diverse disciplines to produce projects that vary from architectural renderings of new educational facilities to original, short-form documentaries.

This spring, one student, Christie Milligan, took an artistic approach that has literally struck a chord. She produced a song about Portland’s water supply. Her fiancée and daughter lent their wonderful singing voices for the song. Christie’s song highlights the visionary Bull Run watershed – the source of Portland’s pristine drinking water since 1895. The song has garnered national attention from the American Water Works Association and appeals to all.

The one thing that the Capstone students profess is an appreciation for Water Bureau staff.  According to students, this is something for the bureau to be proud of.  Staff are modeling career paths for students entering a workforce where many talented people are progressing toward retirement.

In the words of one student: “Hearing from all the different engineers and the various jobs that they hold was insightful. Even though they all sound stressful, the engineers seemed rewarded and enthusiastic about their careers.  I have actually been considering going back to school to get an engineering degree.”

To learn more about the PSU Capstone partnership, visit

Ross Turkus
Engineering Services Group

Paddle and Learn at the 20th Annual Columbia Slough Regatta

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On Sunday, August 3 from 9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m., citizens are invited take part in the 20th Annual Columbia Slough Regatta. Hundreds of people will meet at NE Mason Street and NE 150th Court in Portland to enjoy a leisurely wildlife-watching group paddle on safe, calm water.

This family event, sponsored by the Columbia Slough Watershed CouncilPortland Water Bureau, and many others, is held annually in honor of Portland’s hidden waterway. The channels and wetlands of the Columbia Slough watershed provide important habitat for bald eagles, turtles, fish, and otters, as well as enthusiastic kayakers and canoeists. The Portland Water Bureau’s Columbia South Shore Well Field is also situated entirely within the slough watershed. 

Participants may spot Great Blue Heron, Osprey, Western Painted Turtle, Beavers and more!

Individuals and families are welcome to bring their own boat or borrow one from the Columbia Slough Watershed Council.

A donation of $8.00 per person is requested. Register early for the event!

Doug Wise
Groundwater Protection Program

Test Results are Clean, Water is Safe to Drink

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Results from a routine water sample on Friday, July 25, 2014 showed a presence of total coliform bacteria. 

Follow-up samples were collected immediately. Seven resamples came back clean on Saturday, July 26, confirming that water is safe to drink.

The Portland Water Bureau collects approximately 240 routine bacteriological samples per month throughout the system. It is not unusual for one of these samples to test positive for bacteria. Immediately after an initial detection, the Water Bureau tests additional samples to confirm the presence of possible contamination in drinking water.

For more information about your water, customers should contact the Portland Water Bureau Water Line at 503-823-7525.

Jaymee Cuti
Public Information 

Kelly Butte Reservoir: Building for Today, Planning for Tomorrow

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July 2014 aerial photo of worksite
July 2014 aerial photo of worksite 

In just under two years, Portland Water Bureau and Hoffman Construction Company crews have made momentous progress in building the new 25-million-gallon underground reservoir.  As part of the project, a new access road, an overflow basin, multiple vaults and valve structures, and an intricate network of underground piping were constructed atop Kelly Butte in southeast Portland. 

  • Reservoir: Crews have completed pouring the reservoir’s 400-foot by 300-foot floor and roof, as well as 252 supporting columns, and its five walls (four sides, one divider wall). Work to install appurtenances inside the reservoir (washdown piping, stairs, railings) are underway. Electrical and instrumentation systems will be installed and operating to create a functioning facility. Testing of the new reservoir is scheduled to begin later this summer.
  • Valve Structures: During July, crews will install electrical systems and conduits, as well as the HVAC systems in the north and south valve structures. The structures are designed to protect equipment that precisely control water flow to and from the reservoir.
  • Pipe Connection: In February, crews began construction of a large concrete vault under the westbound lane in the 9700 block of SE Powell Boulevard. By late June, the vault was constructed, waterproofed, and backfilled. In early July, SE Powell Boulevard was resurfaced, striped, and paved.
  • Overflow Detention Basin & Stormwater Overflow Pond: Currently under construction is a new detention overflow basin and storm water pond. 

Upon completion in summer 2015, the Kelly Butte Reservoir will serve Portland's east‐side water customers, and be a stopover to supply water to the Washington Park reservoir and southwest Portland area water storage tanks.

For additional information on the Kelly Butte Reservoir project, visit

Lindsay Wochnick
Public Information

“Your Sustainable City” Awaits You at Northeast Portland Sunday Parkways Event

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Northeast Brochure for Sunday ParkwaysThis Sunday, July 27, the public is invited to Sunday Parkways in Northeast Portland for an afternoon of fun! Explore the Northeast Neighborhood Greenways while you make your way around the Northeast Portland route. Don’t forget to stop by Woodlawn, Alberta, and Fernhill Parks where a collection of fun activities, music, and delicious food awaits you.

Each year at the Sunday Parkways events, the Portland Water Bureau partners with several other City bureaus to provide information on sustainability-focused programs the Bureau of Environmental Services, Portland Bureau of Transportation, Bureau of Planning and Sustainability, Bureau of Development Services, Portland Parks & Recreation, Independent Police Review, Procurement Services and Portland Water Bureau offers to citizens, including transportation alternatives, water conservation, recycling, green building, parks services and more!


This Sunday, Portland Water Bureau staff will be at Alberta Park to distribute water conservation information and materials for sustainable City programs. These fun events present a great way for the Portland Water Bureau to connect with the community as well as share water knowledge with the public.

Please stop by and to learn how you and your family can implement practices that will lead to healthier living for the planet and its inhabitants, big and small. 

For additional information about this Sunday’s event and other free events this summer, visit the Portland Bureau of Transportation’s website.

Judi Ranton
Water Efficiency

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