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The City of Portland, Oregon

Environmental Services

working for clean rivers

Phone: 503-823-7740

Fax: 503-823-6995

1120 SW 5th Ave, Suite 613, Portland, OR 97204

More Contact Info

Check the Rec: Willamette River Recreation Index

Summer 2020 Weekly Testing Season is Complete: Environmental Services weekly summer testing for E. Coli in the Willamette River resumed May 21, 2020 and concluded September 9, 2020. All tests were GOOD.  Monthly testing will continue year round.  COVID-19 safety: Before considering Willamette River recreation, please consult Multnomah County’s COVID-19 information.  

Monthly testing - all year long

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

Summer weekly testing

View the 2020 summer season results below. 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 September. Samples are taken on Wednesdays, and results posted on Fridays. 

Contact: Diane Dulken (503)457-7636 

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

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.


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.