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The City of Portland, Oregon

Environmental Services

working for clean rivers

Phone: 503-823-7740

Fax: 503-823-6995

MAILING ADDRESS: 1120 SW 5th Ave, Room 1000, Portland, OR 97204

More Contact Info

Check the Rec: Willamette River Recreation Index

Banner images says: Want to swim, boat, paddle and play in the Willamette River? This week's sampling results for all sites are GOOD.

Contact: Diane Dulken (503)823-5328 diane.dulken@portlandoregon.gov 

Summer weekly testing

Are you planning to swim, boat or play in the Willamette River this summer? Environmental Services tests for E. coli bacteria at five popular Willamette River locations each week from late May to late September. Samples are taken on Wednesdays, and results posted on Fridays.

Sellwood Riverfront Park Dock Sellwood Riverfront Park Dock Willamette Park Boat Launch Willamette Park Boat Launch Portland Boathouse Dock Portland Boathouse Dock Riverplace Marina Boat Dock Riverplace Marina Boat Dock Cathedral Park Boat Launch Cathedral Park Boat Launch

Year-round monthly testing

Each month, year-round, Environmental Services collects water samples at three locations to track long-term water quality trends.

(In April 2019, higher bacteria levels were recorded during the "April floods," when the river turned brown for several days from a mix of snowmelt, rain and debris that washed downstream through Portland.)

Stay safe!

Keep in mind many factors affect your safety on the river, including temperature, currents, and debris in the river as well as your skills and ability in the water. Remember, cold water is healthy for fish, but it can be uncomfortable and even unsafe for people. Know the water, know your abilities, and stay safe while enjoying the river.

Where to swim

Portland Parks & Recreations operates Poet’s Beach and has other tips for where to swim and how to stay safe when recreating in the Willamette River. 

Sewage advisories

Be advised, combined sewer overflows (CSOs) are rare, thanks to the Big Pipe Project, but may still occur during periods of exceptionally heavy rain. In the unlikely event of an overflow, Environmental Services will issue a CSO advisory to the news media, place signs along the river, and post the advisory information at the top of this page and on the home page. During CSOs, the public is advised to avoid contact with the river for 48 hours due to increased bacteria.

Background

Thanks to ratepayers’ investment in the $1.4 billion Big Pipe project – the largest public works project in Portland history that was completed in 2011 – almost all combined sewer overflows (CSOs)to the Willamette River have been eliminated. With that drop in sewage exposure comes a drop in E. coli bacteria – an indicator of fecal matter and the single biggest health concern for swimming and other direct-contact recreation, according to the state Department of Environmental Quality.

Other E. coli sources include poop from wildlife and pets (thank you for picking up after your dog). Because of the public’s interest in recreation on the Willamette River, Environmental Services tests for bacteria weekly during the summer – it’s one way you can be assured of bacteria levels and see and experience the results of your investment in the Big Pipe project.


Learn More About Willamette River Health

Environmental Services is working for a healthier river on many fronts, from reducing sewage overflows to restoring habitat to collaborating on the cleanup of the Portland Harbor Superfund site. Here you can find additional resources and answers to frequently asked questions.