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Kelly Butte Reservoir: Rising from the Ground

By Lindsay Wochnick

In October 2012, Portland Water Bureau and Hoffman Construction Company began construction to replace the 10-million gallon above ground steel tank atop Kelly Butte in southeast Portland with a 25-million gallon underground reinforced concrete reservoir. The Kelly Butte Reservoir will serve not only east Portland, but it will also supply water into southwest Portland.

The project will allow Portland to comply with federal rules that will lead to the three Mount Tabor open reservoirs being disconnected from the city’s water system.

Kelly Butte Reservoir project site in December 2012 Kelly Butte Reservoir project site in June 2013
December 2012 – June 2013 

Within the past 11 months, crews prepared the butte for the new reservoir, a temporary haul road, an intricate network of underground piping, multiple vaults and an overflow basin. 

Inlet and Outlet Pipes
Inlet and Outlet Pipes

Over the summer, the site continued to be excavated to ensure ample room for the two individual cells that will comprise the 25-million-gallon reservoir. 

East Cell Piping
East Cell Piping

Inlet and outlet pipes that will run under the reservoir have been placed and will soon be encased in concrete to provide seismic stability and support for the pipes.

Conduit 3 Meter Vault North Valve Vault
Left: Conduit 3 Meter Vault, Right: North Valve Vault

The floor slabs for the Parkrose meter vault, North valve vault and the Conduit 3 meter vault foundation have been poured and the exterior wall construction for each structure is in process. 

Within the next six months, the construction site will look significantly different. The 25-million gallon reservoir will begin to take shape with multiple concrete slab pours and wall and interior column construction.  Pipes will be encased in concrete and buried, and the concrete vaults will be fully constructed.

In the winter of 2013 and 2014, crews will tie-in Conduit 3 at SE Powell Boulevard. Conduit 3 - installed and placed online in 1925 - will deliver water directly from the Bull Run Reservoir 2 to Kelly Butte Reservoir. Kelly Butte is projected to become operational in the winter of 2014 with the entire project slated for completion in summer 2015.

For additional project information and photos, please visit  

Lindsay Wochnick
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