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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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Additional Cryptosporidium Detected in Bull Run Water

By Brian Balla

The Portland Water Bureau received results from ongoing monitoring of the Bull Run watershed. While the bureau is no longer serving drinking water from the Bull Run watershed, monitoring for Cryptosporidium has continued. The bureau remains in compliance with the terms of the Cryptosporidium treatment variance issued by the Oregon Health Authority.

On Monday, Feb. 13, anticipating that further Cryptosporidium detections from the Bull Run were possible, the Portland Water Bureau proactively activated the groundwater wells from the Columbia South Shore Well Field.

The most recent results from water that was not served to the public was from two 50-liter (13 gallon) samples that were positive for one Cryptosporidium oocyst each. The positive samples were collected Tuesday, Feb. 14 and Wednesday, Feb. 15. These are the eighth and ninth positive samples out of 32 samples this year.

The bureau is committed to keeping the public informed of the ongoing monitoring for Cryptosporidium from the Bull Run. The public and the media are encouraged to view all sampling results posted to the City’s website at The bureau will continue to notify the Oregon Health Authority of all detections.

The bureau will also coordinate with state and county health officials to determine when to return to the Bull Run as our drinking water source. The bureau will notify the public and the media when it returns to Bull Run water.

Additional information regarding the Portland Water Bureau’s treatment variance and answers to frequently asked questions are available at Customers with questions regarding water quality can call the Water Line at (503) 823-7525.

Five Presidents That Helped Protect Portland’s Water Supply

By Brian Balla

Presidents’ Day is a time to remember and reflect on the contributions made to our country by each of our past U.S. Presidents.

Washington, D.C. may seem worlds away from Portland, Oregon, but five past Presidents had a part in helping preserve the Bull Run Watershed – the federally-protected reserve that supplies fresh, clean drinking water to over 900,000 Oregonians every day.

Let’s take a moment to learn about these five past Presidents who helped protect this important natural resource.

President Benjamin HarrisonPresident Benjamin Harrison

In 1892, using powers granted to him under the Forest Reserve Act passed by Congress a year prior, President Benjamin Harrison established the Bull Run Forest Reserve which prohibited settlement in the 142,000-acre reserve. President Harrison’s act also made it easier for the Portland Water Committee (later renamed the Portland Water Board) to acquire private land and water rights in the basin. The establishment of the Forest Reserve set a precedent for federal protection of the Bull Run. It was the first step of many in protecting and preserving the delicate ecosystem that supplies Portland’s drinking water.

President Theodore RooseveltPresident Theodore Roosevelt

Despite the new settlement restrictions signed into law by President Harrison, fishing, hunting, camping and livestock grazing were still allowed in the newly-created Bull Run Forest Reserve. Because of this, the Portland Water Board sought additional land use restrictions within the reserve to further protect Portland’s drinking water supply.

In 1904, President Theodore Roosevelt signed into law the Bull Run Trespass Act which further limited entry and activities – including grazing – in the Bull Run Forest Reserve. But the specific wording of the law left the law open to interpretation, planting seeds for conflict over access and forest management in the Bull Run. Over the next half-century, the Portland Water Board, which would become the Water Bureau in 1913, completed a variety of infrastructure projects – including adding diversion structures, water conduits and others – to the original system. But by the mid-1950s, the City of Portland and the U.S. Forest Service began to disagree about logging and public access in the watershed.

President Jimmy CarterPresident Jimmy Carter

In 1977, President Jimmy Carter signed into law the Bull Run Act (PL 95-200). The law replaced the Trespass Act of 1904 and declared that the principal management objective of the Watershed to be the production of “…pure, clear, raw potable water…for the City of Portland and other local government units and persons in the Portland metropolitan area.” Other activities inside the watershed were permitted, provided they did not interfere with the primary objective of the Watershed.

The Bull Run Act also created the Bull Run Watershed Management Unit (BRWMU; the administrative boundary of the Bull Run Watershed), authorized the Forest Service to enact entry restrictions and formally recognized a role for the City of Portland in the management the Bull Run. The law did not settle the controversy around logging and logging continued in the Bull Run until the early 1990s. 

President Bill ClintonPresident Bill Clinton

President Clinton signed into law the Oregon Resource Conservation Act of 1996. This law amended the Bull Run Act and prohibited all timber harvest on all Forest Service lands within the Bull Run River drainage except for tree cutting needed to protect or enhance water quality or water quantity and for the development, operation and maintenance of hydropower and water supply facilities. This Act largely ended the logging controversy in the Bull Run.

President George BushPresident George W. Bush

In 2001, President George W. Bush signed into law the Little Sandy Protection Act. This law added most of the Little Sandy watershed to the BRWMU and extended the timber restrictions throughout the Little Sandy drainage within the BRWMU. (The Little Sandy is outside of the water supply drainage boundary.)

Learn More about the Bull Run Watershed

Careful and responsible management and protection of the Bull Run drinking water supply are vital to maintaining Portland’s high quality water quality and public health.

To learn more about the Bull Run Watershed and how federal, City and State protections safeguard this important resource, click here.

Water Work Closes One Lane of SE 68th Avenue North of SE Division to Mt. Tabor Park

By Teresa Black Add a Comment

PORTLAND,  OR- A contractor for the Portland Water Bureau will be disconnecting an old water pipe in SE 68th Avenue the week of Feb. 20, 2017.

The work will begin on Monday (Presidents’ Day) from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.  and will continue Tuesday and Wednesday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. One lane of traffic will remain open. Flaggers will direct traffic.

No water services will be disrupted.

The traveling public is reminded to stay alert and use caution as traffic may suddenly slow or stop. To avoid traffic delays, motorists are encouraged to use alternate routes around the work site.

Portland Water Bureau Offices Closed Feb. 20 in Observance of the President’s Day Holiday

By Brian Balla

In observance of the Presidents' Day holiday, Portland Water Bureau offices will be closed on Monday, Feb. 20, 2017.

This includes both the Customer Service Call Center and the Customer Service Walk-In Service Center located on the first floor at 1120 SW Fifth Avenue, Portland, Oregon. Offices will reopen on Tuesday, Feb. 21, 2017 at 8 a.m.

During the holiday, Water Bureau customers are invited to pay their bill in the following ways:

  • Online
  • Pay by phone by dialing 503-823-7770 and press 1
  • Drop off: Leave a payment in the Water Bureau's night box located at 1120 SW 5th Avenue to the left of the building's front doors
  • To report a water system emergency, contact the 24/7 Emergency Hotline at 503-823-4874.

To report a water system emergency, contact the 24/7 Emergency Hotline at 503-823-4874.

Water Bureau Finds Additional Cryptosporidium in Bull Run Water

By Teresa Black Add a Comment

Groundwater activated on Feb. 13.

Today, the Portland Water Bureau received results from ongoing monitoring of the Bull Run watershed, including one 50L (13 gallon) sample that was positive for Cryptosporidium, a potentially pathogenic microorganism. The positive sample was collected Monday, Feb. 13 and is the seventh positive sample out of 29 samples this year. The levels detected continue to be low, with one Cryptosporidium oocyst detected in this sample.

 With the possibility of further Cryptosporidium detections from the Bull Run, the Portland Water Bureau activated the groundwater wells from the Columbia South Shore Well Field on Monday Feb. 13.

“The health and safety of our customers is our top priority” said Portland Water Bureau Administrator Michael Stuhr “We will continue to work with our partners at Multnomah County Health Department and Oregon Health Authority while monitoring our drinking water source.”

At this time, there is no evidence of an increased public health risk as a result of this most recent detection. The bureau continues to recommend that people with severely weakened immune systems seek specific advice about drinking water from their health care providers. However, there is no need for the general public to take additional precautions.

“All identified cases of cryptosporidiosis, the disease caused by Cryptosporidium, are reported to state and county health officials” said Dr. Jennifer Vines, Deputy Health Officer, Multnomah County. “So far, the county’s ongoing disease surveillance has shown no unexplained increase in Cryptosporidium cases.”

Symptoms of cryptosporidiosis may include diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, stomach cramps, and fever. The symptoms can range from mild to severe. Cryptosporidiosis is not the only illness or condition that can cause these symptoms. These symptoms are common in the general population this time of year – up to 2 percent of the public can have similar symptoms on any given day (11,000 people in Portland). Health professionals recommend seeking medical advice if these symptoms persist for more than a few days.

The Portland Water Bureau currently does not treat for the parasite Cryptosporidium under a variance issued by the State of Oregon Health Authority in 2012. As required by the conditions of the variance, the bureau had been testing for Cryptosporidium at the source water intake twice a week. Since Jan. 8, after the initial detections, the bureau began monitoring at the source water intake at least four times per week. The bureau will continue to test the Bull Run for Cryptosporidium even while serving groundwater as the drinking water source. The results of this continued monitoring will be used to decide when to return to the Bull Run as our drinking water source.  

The Portland Water Bureau is continuing its investigation into the recent detections. While no specific source has been identified, scat from wildlife in the Bull Run that has been washed into the reservoirs are the most likely source of the Cryptosporidium detections. The bureau will continue to notify the public if any additional precautions are necessary. In the meantime, the bureau will continue operating our secondary groundwater source.

Additional information regarding the Portland Water Bureau’s treatment variance and answers to frequently asked questions are available at Customers with questions regarding water quality can call the Water Line at (503) 823-7525.