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The City of Portland, Oregon

Portland Water Bureau

From forest to faucet, we deliver the best drinking water in the world.

Customer Service: 503-823-7770


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Art and Infrastructure: Student Artists Bring the Story of Portland’s Water System to Life

Illustration of gravity fed water system

2,300 miles of pipes. 14,376 fire hydrants. 100 million gallons of water a day.

These are the impressive numbers behind the system that deliver drinking water to over a million Portlanders every day.

And thanks to 19 students at the Art Institute of Portland, we now have a clearer picture of how these numbers fit into our everyday lives.

Visualizing Bull Run and Beyond

Art Institute class with water system artworkBelle Bezdicek is a graphic arts instructor at the Art Institute of Portland in the Pearl District. For an entire semester, Bezdicek’s class of 19 art students took a close look at Portland’s complex network of pipes, fire hydrants, drinking water sources, and other system components. Then Bezdicek challenged her students to take what they learned and create artwork that could be used for a public display.

From whimsical to technical, the students’ work strives to communicate the complexity and detail of Portland’s often-times invisible infrastructure.

What inspired Bezdicek to use Portland’s water system as an exercise in creativity?

Bezdicek credits her neighbor Catherine Howells for the idea to use the city’s water system for her class’s most recent exercise. Catherine is an adjunct professor for Portland State University where she teaches a capstone class about the Water Bureau and Portland’s water. Bezdicek credits Catherine’s enthusiasm and deep knowledge of the water system for getting her art students motivated and creative.

Art Institute students show off artwork“We are all connected to each other in many levels including water,” says Bezdicek, “Portland’s water systems provided the perfect chance for my students to take vast amounts of complex information, decide what was the most important thing to communicate, then visualize it in a style appropriate for the target audience.”

Bezdicek notes that illustrating a city’s water system can be challenging, and through this challenge the students flexed their creative muscles by learning how to create designs that educate and inspire.

Thank you to the students at the Art Institute of Portland for allowing us to share their creations.

Do you have a favorite design? We’d love to hear what you think on Facebook and Twitter.

Discover the Students’ Artwork

Ready to see the artwork for yourself?

Click through to view large-format versions of the art on our Flickr page.

Holiday Closure: Memorial Day, Monday, May 28

In observance of the Memorial Day holiday, Portland Water Bureau offices will be closed this Monday, May 28. Offices will reopen on Tuesday, May 29 at 8 a.m.

This closure includes both the Customer Service Call Center and the Customer Service Walk-In Service Center located on the sixth floor at 111 SW Columbia St., Suite 660, Portland, Oregon.

How to Pay Your Utility Bill

During the holiday, Water Bureau customers can pay their bill in the following ways:

  • Online: Click here
  • Phone: Pay by phone by dialing 503-823-7770 and pressing 1
  • Drop off: Leave a payment in the Water Bureau's drop box located at 111 SW Columbia St. (at the corner of SW 1st Ave. and SW Columbia St).

Have a safe and happy holiday!

Water Emergency Hotline

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

Why is all that water pouring into the street?

Unidirectional flushing

We get this question a lot when customers see our flushing crews working out in the field.

Pete and Andrew are Water Operator Mechanics in our Maintenance and Construction group.  They oversee flushing all the hydrants across Portland’s water system.

During the weeks of May 21st and 28th, Pete and Andrew will be flushing water systems at various locations in North, Northeast, Southeast, and Southwest Portland.

So why is this water being flushed in the first place?

Flushing is Part of Routine Maintenance

Flushing is sometimes used to improve the water quality in a specific area. This can be either in response to customer calls or as preventative maintenance.

In this specific project, an engineering project is being conducted that may cause customers living in the neighborhoods below to see discolored water. So flushing is being done as a preventative action to prevent you from seeing water discoloration.

The following neighborhoods have a low risk of seeing any effects from our work, but we want to let you know about this work in case you notice a difference in water color or pressure.

  • North Portland: Cathedral Park, St Johns, University Park, Portsmouth
  • Northeast Portland: Lloyd District, Sullivan’s Gulch, Kerns, Eliot, Irvington, Laurelhurst, North Tabor, Grant Park/Hollywood, Rose City Park, Parkrose, Cully
  • Southeast Portland: Buckman, Hosford-Abernathy, Brooklyn, Creston-Kenilworth
  • Southwest Portland: Crestwood, West Portland Park, Far Southwest, South Burlingame, Hillsdale

What Nearby Residents Can Expect

The discoloration does not pose a health risk.

WaterWorks - Find Water Bureau project information

If you experience some discoloration in your water from nearby flushing, run the water at one tap for two to three minutes to see if it clears. If it does not clear, wait an hour and try again. When the water runs clear, flush any taps where discolored water was present. Learn more about what you should do if you experience “dirty” water.

Find Flushing Projects Near You

Curious to see if there is flushing going on near you?

Visit our new WaterWorks tool, an online mapping application that shows you when, and where, Water Bureau projects are happening in the Portland metro area.

Find WaterWorks at

Join Our Team: Industrial Painter and Senior Administrative Specialist

Portland Water Bureau logoIf you're interested in joining an award-winning public utility where employees thrive on the pride of delivering a life-essential product with world class customer service, the Portland Water Bureau might be just the place for you.

The Water Bureau is a recognized leader in the utility industry. We've achieved this success by investing in the very best people and empowering them to find new and better ways to meet our customer's needs.

The Water Bureau currently employs approximately 560 people. All current job postings with the City of Portland are posted online, and updated weekly. We are an equal opportunity employer that values diversity and inclusion in the workplace.

Current Opportunities at the Water Bureau

Position   Emp. Type   Salary   Closing Date/Time Join Our Team 
Industrial Painter Full Time $29.27–$32.78 Hourly Mon. 6/4/2018 11:59 PM Pacific Apply here!
Senior Administrative Specialist Full Time $3,946.00–$6,075.00 Monthly Mon. 6/4/2018 11:59 PM Pacific Apply here!

Learn More About the Water Bureau


For more information regarding career opportunities at the Water Bureau, contact (503) 823-3515 or e-mail.

Explore STEM with the Water Bureau's Education Program

Take a tour of the Bull Run WatershedOur world, and our water, depends on STEM.

STEM stands for science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. These fields include jobs like civil engineer, water quality scientist, wildlife biologist, and many more. People with STEM training play an important role at the Water Bureau, where scientists and engineers keep an eye on the health of our system and the water it delivers.

Without STEM, who would engineer our city’s underground water supply pipes? Collect and analyze distribution performance data? Monitor and report on the quality of our city’s drinking water?

Last week was STEM Week Oregon, a time to celebrate and learn about all the ways science, technology, engineering, and mathematics plays a role in our everyday lives. STEM Week Oregon may be over, but here at the Water Bureau, our immersive STEM-related programs are in full swing.

Discover Where STEM Can Take You: Inside the Bull Run Watershed

Did you know that we offer a Water Resources education program where students engage in hands-on STEM activities all year long?

Collecting a water sample for analysisDuring the spring and fall of the school year, the Water Bureau’s education team takes students in the Portland area into the Bull Run Watershed for engaging STEM related field trips. Students get to tour one of the dams, witness the engineering feats of the 1920s, and learn about how our engineers today monitor the integrity of the dam.

How does a healthy forest relate to clean water? And how does a hydrologist, wildlife biologist, and forester work together to track the health of an old-growth forest? These are a few of the questions our young tour-takers explore.

Students can also take part in hands-on learning activities like conducting their very own water quality test. For this test, students observe how Water Bureau employees use a Kemmerer bottle to collect a sample of water. Then the students use turbidimeters to measure water cloudiness in the sample and record their data. It's a real-life exercise in STEM field work.

The Portland Water Bureau relies on STEM every day to get clean water to homes and businesses. And our educators love sharing the wonder and excitement of where STEM can take you, from the forest to the faucet.

Sign Up for a Bull Run Tour

Teachers, would you like to take your classroom on a tour of the Bull Run Watershed?

Sign up to take your class into the Bull Run by emailing And learn more about the educational opportunities at the Water Bureau by visiting the Water Resources Education webpage.