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The City of Portland, Oregon

Portland Water Bureau

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Loan that benefits ratepayers submitted, City Council considering finance plan for filtration facility

photo of bull run

On April 1, 2020, the Portland Water Bureau submitted our application to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for a low-cost Water Infrastructure and Finance and Innovation Act (WIFIA) loan to build the Bull Run Treatment Projects. Wednesday April 8, City Council will consider an ordinance authorizing water revenue bonds to finance the projects. Council members are expected to vote for the ordinance at a second reading the following week. 

“Council approval of the finance plan for the Bull Run Treatment Projects will lock in significant benefits for our ratepayers,” said Commissioner Amanda Fritz. “Based on rate projections, the WIFIA loan will provide an estimated $350 million of debt service savings to ratepayers over the term of the loan.”

A WIFIA loan will help us finance improvements to Portland’s water system needed to comply with federal and state drinking water regulations, including building improved corrosion control treatment, a new filtration facility, and related pipelines.

Borrowers have up to 35 years after substantial completion of a project to repay a loan, saving ratepayers money by allowing for smaller payment amounts over the life of the loan. Along with providing consistent, high-quality water, we estimate the Bull Run Treatment Projects will create 7,500 direct construction jobs. As part of our commitment to a sustained, vibrant Oregon economy, the construction contracts will include Community Benefits Agreements that incorporate workforce equity goals and expanded training and work opportunities for minorities and women.

What is WIFIA?

Logo for the Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (WIFIA)WIFIA is a federal program that provides long-term, low-cost supplemental loans for regionally and nationally significant projects like the Bull Run Treatment Projects that support public health and the economy.

“WIFIA financing is a huge opportunity for us to reduce costs for ratepayers while we make these important investments in the future of our water system.” Mike Stuhr.

Oregon Senator Jeff Merkley introduced the legislation for the WIFIA program, which was passed by Congress in 2014, to create jobs and accelerate investment in upgrades and repairs to our nation’s critical water infrastructure.

How does WIFIA work?

WIFIA offers flexible repayment schedule to allow for water rate increases to be phased in over a longer period of time. The interest rate will be fixed at the U.S. Treasury bond rate for a similar maturity on the date our loan closes, and we’ll be able to keep that low rate locked in.  

We applied for the total allowable loan amount which was calculated using cost estimates submitted to City Council in 2019 ($820 million for the filtration facility and pipelines, and $20 million for improved corrosion control). Other eligible costs include project contingency, inflation, indirect costs, bond reserves and interest costs, and a contingency amount.

How will WIFIA benefit Portland?

With a WIFIA loan, we can take advantage of a long repayment period and wait to start making payments until after the improved corrosion control facility is online in 2022 and the filtration facility is substantially completed in 2027, which means nearly all the project costs will be paid after customers are getting the benefits of the new facilities.

Within two years, improved corrosion control treatment will further reduce the potential for home plumbing to contribute to lead in our water. By September 2027, the new filtration facility will remove the microorganism Cryptosporidium and other potential contaminants from Bull Run water providing added protection for our customers.

A low-cost WIFIA loan with a long-term repayment option will significantly reduce the cost to ratepayers and secure our vision of keeping our water safe and abundant for generations to come.

“The City is grateful to Senator Merkley for his leadership in creating the WIFIA program, and to Senator Ron Wyden, and Representatives Earl Blumenauer and Suzanne Bonamici for their support of the City’s efforts to secure the WIFIA loan for the Bull Run Treatment Projects,” added Commissioner Fritz.

Comments or questions about the Bull Run Treatment Projects can be submitted online at or by email at

Sign up to be notified by email about project updates including meetings and events at:

Apr. 3, 2020: Cryptosporidium Monitoring Update

Since 2017, the Portland Water Bureau has detected low levels of Cryptosporidium from routine monitoring. Monitoring results were received from the Bull Run Watershed intake for Cryptosporidium, a potentially disease-causing microorganism. In a 50-liter sampled collected on Tuesday, Mar. 31 one Cryptosporidium oocyst was detected. Prior to this detection, Cryptosporidium was last detected from the Bull Run Watershed intake on Mar. 16, 2020, when one oocyst was detected from the 50-liters sampled.

The Bull Run watershed is Portland’s primary source of drinking water. The Portland Water Bureau does not currently treat for Cryptosporidium, but is required to do so under drinking water regulations. Portland is working to install filtration by September 2027 under a compliance schedule with Oregon Health Authority. In the meantime, Portland Water Bureau is implementing interim measures such as watershed protection and additional monitoring to protect public health. Consultation with public health officials has concluded that at this time, customers do not need to take any additional precautions.

About Cryptosporidium

Exposure to Cryptosporidium can cause cryptosporidiosis, a serious illness. Symptoms can include diarrhea, vomiting, fever and stomach pain. People with healthy immune systems recover without medical treatment. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), people with severely weakened immune systems are at risk for more serious disease. Symptoms may be more severe and could lead to serious or life-threatening illness. Examples of people with weakened immune systems include those with AIDS; those with inherited diseases that affect the immune system; and cancer and transplant patients who are taking certain immunosuppressive drugs.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has estimated that a small percentage of the population could experience gastro-intestinal illness from Cryptosporidium and advises that customers who are immunocompromised and receive their drinking water from the Bull Run Watershed consult with their healthcare professional about the safety of drinking the tap water. The Portland Water Bureau and Burlington, City of Gresham, City of Sandy, City of Tualatin, Green Valley, GNR, Hideaway Hills, Lake Grove, Lorna Domestic Water, Lusted, Palatine Hill, Pleasant Home, Raleigh, Rockwood, Skyview Acres, Tualatin Valley, Two Rivers, Valley View and West Slope Water Districts receive all or part of their drinking water supply from the Bull Run. To learn if your drinking water comes from Bull Run, please contact your local drinking water provider.

More Information

The public and the media are encouraged to view all sampling results posted to the City’s website at The bureau will notify the media and public immediately should further test results indicate a risk to public health and precautions are necessary.

Customers with questions regarding water quality can call the Water Line at 503-823-7525.

Filtration facility planning phase complete, design phase moves forward

Bull Run Dam 1

Over the past year, we have made great progress with the planning phase of the federally-required filtration projects and are now moving forward with the two-year design phase of a new filtration facility to filter Bull Run water.

We are designing a treatment facility to filter Bull Run water to comply with federal safe drinking water regulations. When complete, this filtration facility will remove the microorganism Cryptosporidium and provide other benefits to our Bull Run water supply, producing clean and safe water for the nearly one million people who depend on it now and for future generations.

“We’re excited to share with the community that we’ve completed the critical planning phase of the filtration facility. It’s an important milestone. As we move forward with the design phase, we’ll leverage this preliminary planning work, community input, and additional evaluations to guide the design,” said Water Bureau Director Mike Stuhr

In December 2018, the Portland City Council established granular media as the preferred filtration technology and a facility capacity of 145 to 160 million gallons per day at a site located in east Multnomah County. In 2019, following those initial Council decisions, we completed extensive planning and engineering analysis to guide design of the new facility and identify treatment best-suited to filter Bull Run. These efforts are documented in the Draft Filtration Facility Overview, which serves as the bridge between the planning and design phases of the filtration facility project.

Image of Filtration Facility Overview reportThe Draft Filtration Facility Overview outlines preliminary information about water quality objectives, site characteristics, treatment process alternatives, and other significant components of the planned facility to guide the design process. This preliminary work used information about performance goals and known constraints to screen the alternatives under consideration to those feasible for our water system.

The information in the Draft Filtration Facility Overview is conceptual and provides a guide for the designers and a basis for the most recent cost estimates.  As design progresses, we will continue to evaluate alternatives using engineering and community input to inform design decisions for the new filtration facility.

“We’ve been very thoughtful in this planning phase and identified the treatment process alternatives best-suited to treat Bull Run water and meet community values. The planning work lays the foundation for designing a treatment facility that not only meets federal requirements, but when it’s online will produce clean and safe drinking water for generations to come.” said David Peters, Bull Run Treatment Program Director.

Planning for the pipelines to and from the filtration facility is ongoing and will progress to the design phase in 2021. We are currently completing field investigations and gathering information about conditions along potential pipeline routes to help identify preferred pipeline routes, provide guidance to the pipeline designer, and refine cost estimates for the pipelines. Pipeline planning information will be available in summer 2020, and a designer for the pipeline is expected to join the filtration team in late 2020.

Joint Water Commission tourAs design progresses on the filtration facility and pipelines, we will continue our commitment to share information about project progress and actively gather input from the community to inform project decisions. This includes engaging the community through stakeholder interviews, surveys, open houses, and community forums. The Bull Run Filtration Site Advisory Group will continue to offer independent community perspectives on facility design through a variety of virtual meeting tools as we work through the challenges associated with COVID-19.

“Our community is very proud of Bull Run and our water and plays an important role in helping us plan for the future.” said Director Stuhr. “That’s why we are so excited to share the news that we’ve moved into the next phase of our filtration project. We’ll continue the ongoing and open public engagement as we work to build a new filtration facility that aligns with community values and provides resilient infrastructure for future generations.”

Comments or questions about the Draft Filtration Facility Overview report can be submitted online at or by email at

Sign up to be notified by email about project updates including meetings and events at:



Draft Filtration Facility Overview
Chapter 1 Introduction; Chapter 2 Existing Water System; Chapter 3 Water Quality Considerations; Chapter 4 Planning Considerations; Chapter 5 Design Considerations; Chapter 6 Treatment Process Alternatives; Chapter 7 Filtration Facility Support Systems

Draft Filtration Facility Overview Appendices A-C
A. Communications Framework; B. Basis of Estimate Report; C. Phase II Environmental Site Assessment Report

Draft Filtration Facility Overview Appendices D-F
D. Traffic Impact Analysis TM; E. Acoustic Design Criteria and Baseline Measurements; F. Geotechnical Data Report

Draft Filtration Facility Overview Appendices G-K
G. Pilot Plant Work Plan; H. Stormwater Conceptual Design TM; I. Septic System Conceptual Design TM; J. Solar Analysis Technical Summary; K. Architectural Administration and Maintenance Building Program

How we're responding to COVID-19

Status Updates:  

  • Your tap water is safe to drink.  
  • The call center is temporarily closed. 
  • The Walk-in Center (664 N. Tillamook Street) is temporarily closed.  

How to contact us: 

  • 24-hour automated line : 503-823-7770: 
  • Press 1 to make a payment.  
  • Press 2 to restore service if your water was disconnected for nonpayment. See more information below. 
  • Press 3 for after-hour water emergencies. 
  • Email: 
  • Make a payment online  
  • For water emergencies: 503-823-4874 (24-hour Emergency Dispatch Hotline)  
  • For questions about water quality:  

Water Quality Line: 503-823-7525 (8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday – Friday. Interpretation available.) 


Additional Information: 

  • Your drinking water is safe from Coronavirus.   
  • The Portland Water Bureau uses chlorine disinfection to meet the EPA and OHA requirements for the treatment of viruses such as COVID-19.   
  • Our drinking water is regularly tested throughout the drinking water system to make sure the water remains safe.   

The Portland Water Bureau will not disconnect customers' water service due to billing/payment issues during this health emergency and will not charge late fees. Customers will continue to be responsible for sewer/stormwater/water charges due now and accrued during this time.  

If your water service was disconnected for non-payment and you are contacting us to request your water service be restored, please do so during business hours at 503-823-4874.

M&C COVID 19 Response Staffing

Maintenance & Construction is rotating skeleton crews on an adjusted schedule to respond to all system events during business hours as well as to respond to utility locate requests in compliance with Oregon Dig Laws.  We maintain 24 hour Urgent Responders on duty, with crews fit for duty to respond to system issues during non-business hours as well, and a number of personnel teleworking who can activate for additional response as needed.

  • Our priority is to ensure that all customers have water and prevent damage to public and private property.  All other priorities are secondary.
  • We are limiting our personnel to no more than two employees in a vehicle.
  • Maintaining social distancing on job sites.