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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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What would we do without our groundwater supply?

By Teresa Black 4 Comments

We all appreciate the purity and abundance of our treasured Bull Run water. For over 100 years, the Water Bureau has worked diligently to protect the watershed and maintain the high water quality customers expect and deserve. However, Mother Nature always has the last word.

Winter landslide in Bull Run watershed, note the staff person for scale.

In January, there was a large landslide on the South Fork of the Bull Run River between the two storage reservoirs in the watershed. The silt and mud from the slide that washed into Reservoir 2 caused elevated levels of turbidity, or suspended solids, and the Bull Run water supply had to be shut down. Our groundwater system was once again called upon to provide high quality water to customers, as the  Bull Run supply is not filtered. The groundwater system allows the Water Bureau to maintain Bull Run as an unfiltered system.

The recent rain storms have again aggravated the slide and the Water Bureau has started to blend groundwater with Bull Run to lower turbidity levels.   

While we commonly sing the praises of Bull Run water, the real unsung hero is groundwater. Without our groundwater system, we would be in a similar boat to Vancouver BC. In fall of 2006, a large storm hit the Pacific Northwest. Over 2 million Vancouver residents had to boil their water, some for as long as 12 days, because of turbidity in their water source. They were not lucky enough to have a secondary water source like we do. During this same storm, the Water Bureau was able to shut off the Bull Run supply and switch to groundwater. All our customer continued to be supplied with drinking water that meets or exceeds all drinking water standards.

So next time you turn on the tap, think about how lucky we are to have groundwater. To learn more about Portland’s groundwater system, participate in one of our upcoming groundwater events.

Rebecca  Geisen

Groudwater Protection Program Manager

Terry Black

Sandy River Basin Community Information


Add a Comment


Chris Bednarek

February 25, 2012 at 2:20 PM

If the Water Bureau continues to sell 100's of millions of gallons of ground water to Carollo Corp., will reliable ground water be there for the citizens when needed?


Teresa Black

February 29, 2012 at 9:06 AM

Yes, the Portland Water Bureau frequently monitors water levels in both production wells and other wells such as monitoring wells. We manage use of the wells to ensure that we can continue to tap aquifers on a sustainable basis.

The Portland Water Bureau supplies water to both residents and non-residential customers, such as commercial and industrial businesses. Carollo is one of many non-residential customers.



March 5, 2012 at 3:38 PM

A beautiful photo of a perfect example of how Cryptosporidium parvum oocysts in animal feces end up in the Bull Run surface source water during a turbidity event.

Was this site near the USGS Key Gauging Station 35?

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Spam Prevention In the Pacific Northwest, what state is Portland in?