The Portland Water Bureau reviewed its practices around construction
projects and found opportunities to use resources wisely, saving land, air, water, or all three. Some of the major efforts are listed below.
Coordination of efforts
The Portland Water Bureau communicates with other utilities and city agencies to coordinate construction projects. Aligning the dates of major projects minimizes environmental impacts and inconvenience to customers and maximizes resources. The Water Bureau coordinated with the Portland Office of Transportation, Tri-Met and other partners to re-cut streets only once for Central City Streetcar tracks and replacement of underground water mains.
Controlling erosion from construction sites is a vital part of daily activities in the Portland Water Bureau. Sediments from erosion that reach streams decrease water quality and harm habitats for fish. The Portland Water Bureau takes the following measures to prevent construction debris from entering neighboring waterways and the City’s stormwater system:
- Place erosion ladders on unstable areas
- Cover excavated materials with straw, hay, or jute matting
- Place Weubban Pillows or Bio Bags near storm drains
- Install silt fences around debris piles
- Plant grass seed to prevent erosion of debris piles
- establishing a policy that calls for turning off all construction vehicles when they are stationary and not in use.
- minimizing the amount of vegetation removed from a construction site, when possible.
- creating re-usable aluminum and wood signs for construction purposes.
- planting native or acclimated plants in new construction area to minimize water and resource use. In several instances, the Bureau has restored vegetation above the pre-construction standard.
The Portland Water Bureau maintains Portland’s fountains
. Most decorative fountains re-circulate water. In addition, some decorative fountains and the Benson Bubblers are placed on timers to limit operating hours. This reduces water use and conserves Portland’s precious resource. The photo at left is the newest municipal fountain, McCoy Fountain at McCoy Park in North Portland. Design specifications focused on wise water use.
The Portland Water Bureau retrofitted the Benson Bubbler drinking fountains with water efficient nozzles while maintaining their historical beauty. In 2005 employees tested, analyzed and reengineered the flow on the Bensons with flow restrictors that reduced consumption by 47%.
Leak detection program
Every year, the bureau tests 30% of the distribution system for leaks. Finding and repairing leaks reduces wasted water and leaves more water in the natural environment. Leak detection also reduces the need for future infrastructure development.