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Portland Water Bureau

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1120 SW Fifth Ave, Suite 600, Portland, OR 97204

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National Engineers Week Spotlight: Meet Joseph, a Water Bureau Senior Civil Engineering Associate

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This week, the Portland Water Bureau is celebrating National Engineer Week by highlighting our engineers in their own words.

Meet Joseph, a Senior Civil Engineering Associate and U.S. citizen of Cameroonian origin, who’s been with the Water Bureau for 12 years.

Utility worker installs a conduit test stationDescribe your typical day for us. What does that look like?

My typical day at the office begins with a deep meditative breath before scrolling through emails, checking phone messages and responding, as need be, to issues that need immediate attention. Typically, I prepare and print my weekly list of carried-over and upcoming tasks on Mondays. This gets adjusted as necessary during the week.

My time is generally split between field and office work related to corrosion control and cathodic protection (CP) for our Bull Run and groundwater conduits, reservoirs, tanks, and light rail transit infrastructure’s possible impact on water pipes. Our engineering group is involved with the design, review, installation, inspection, testing, record keeping and maintenance for the CP system that protects our facilities from the effects of corrosion.

What takes up most of your time and what’s your favorite part of the workday?

Most days go by fast for me. I tend to enjoy the diversity of things to do, whether that’s collecting data at proposed project sites, inspecting and taking CP measurements at rectifiers protecting light rail, working on tanks and the 26 miles of conduits from town to the Bull Run watershed, or analyzing data at the office for reports and system status determination.

Tell us a little about your background and what made you want to choose engineering as a career.

My academic background goes back to Cameroon, my place of birth, where I completed high school and attended junior college (the U.S. equivalent of an associate’s program in the sciences and arts) at the University of London. I also trained as a teacher and received a teaching certification. After a stint of teaching high school math and physics, I attended the University of Sioux Falls in South Dakota where I graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree with a major in mathematics and English literature. Then I studied engineering at the California State University, Los Angeles.

I chose engineering as a profession after evaluating potential options based on my educational background and my life’s realities. Despite my love for math, literature, and philosophy, I realized I would need a terminal degree to make an equitable living wage teaching these subjects. I considered journalism, but feared I needed a lifetime to lose my accent enough to be competitive!

I was engaged to be married and start a family, had a good background in the sciences, and concluded engineering would quickly provide a stable and reliable income for me and my family.

Tell us a little about your family.

I am blessed with a wife, Denny (ageless, of course), Daniel (married to Sara), Ruth and Paul, who has a little over a year of Obamacare left to his credit. We are claimed and owned by two pets, Angel, the Pyrenees/Saluki dog and “Wild Thing” the cat.

Utility worker inspects cathodic protection (CP) rectifiersWhat has been one of your favorite projects to work on?

Apart from the variety of corrosion related projects, my favorite non-corrosion project was managing the water relocation design aspects of the Martin Luther King, Jr. Viaduct Project.

What attributes does a successful engineer have? What is one piece of advice that you have for someone entering your field now?

Being an engineer takes an interest in the way things work, dogged persistence, and a resilient attitude. My advice to those entering the field is to be open to the challenge of hard work needed for being grounded in the fundamentals.

What’s your favorite thing about working at the Water Bureau?

I love the opportunities available and the friendships I’ve made with my colleagues and supervisors.

What is your favorite pastime when not in the field?

Reading, writing, journaling and spending time with family and friends where I commune.

Join Us at This Saturday's Fix-It Fair at Madison High School

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Water Bureau employee at the Fix-It FairThe Portland Water Bureau is a proud sponsor of the City of Portland’s Fix-It Fairs.

A Fix-It Fair is a free event with exhibits and workshops that cover topics including water and energy savings, food and nutrition, recycling, home weatherization, gardening and growing food, yard care and composting, and transportation.

Attendees can also sign up for a free lead in water test kit, enjoy a free lunch, get free professional childcare, and enter to win hourly door prizes. Visit the Portland Water Bureau’s table to get money-saving water tips and information on how you can protect your home plumbing during these last chilly days of winter.

Fix-It Fairs are presented by the Bureau of Planning and Sustainability with support from the Energy Trust of Oregon, Pacific Power, the Portland Water Bureau, KUNP Univision, and KBOO.

Look for the Portland Water Bureau at the next Fix-It Fair! Information is below.

Date: Saturday, Feb. 25
Time: 9:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.
Location: Madison High School, 2735 NE 82nd Ave., Portland

For more information about Fix-It Fairs, visit

Happy National Engineers Week! Get to Know Dan, a Water Bureau Civil Engineer

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This week, the Portland Water Bureau is celebrating National Engineer Week by highlighting our engineers in their own words.

Meet Dan, a Civil Engineer and native Minnesotan who’s been with the Water Bureau for more than 10 years.

Tell us a little about your background and what made you want to choose engineering as a career.

I have Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering from the University of Minnesota. The first eight years of my career were primarily focused on geotechnical engineering. I was then hired by the Water Bureau, where I have worked for the past 10 years.

My first interest in engineering came from my grandpa who was a Civil Engineer for the Minnesota Department of Transportation. As I progressed through my schooling I enjoyed sciences and mathematics courses.  The progression into engineering was natural.

Measuring landslide movement of the Washington Park LandslideDescribe your typical day. What do engineers eat for breakfast? What do you do as soon as you get to the office? What takes up most of your time?

My typical workday includes a bowl of either oatmeal or yogurt with granola, both with fresh fruit. A review of emails and a to-do task list is generally made during my breakfast. This winter, a lot of my time has been given to looking at landslides and determining if there is a risk to our water system. Otherwise, my day is spent assisting our construction management team for the Washington Park Reservoir Improvement Project. This includes answering requests for information and responding to submittals.

What has been one of your favorite projects to work on?

That would be the Washington Park Reservoirs Improvement Project which is currently under construction. I have been working on this project since 2009. During the planning phase, I managed the preliminary geotechnical investigation. During the design phase, I was a co-project manager with Jerry Moore. I am currently a design liaison to the construction management team.

How has the industry changed since you began your career?

The use of technology has become a huge part of day-to-day work. As a young engineer, I often performed the majority of calculations by hand. Computers where utilized to some extent but were slow and challenging calculations often froze programs. Today, one can perform thousands of calculation in a matter of seconds.

When I first started my career, one generally communicated with others outside of the office once a day either by telephone or email. But today, we communicate numerous times per day through a variety of means: telephones, cells phones, text messages, email, conference calls, and video meetings. With that said, the one thing that has not changed is that the best path to becoming a good engineer is experience over time.

What attributes does a successful engineer have?

Being able to communicate to a wide variety of people is essential. It is not only engineers that you will be working with on any given project. A typical project will require interacting with members of the public, neighborhood associations, Water Bureau operations groups, contractors and environmental permitting agencies.

Stella, Dan's family pupWhat do you love about working at the Water Bureau?

I take pride in being a part of an organization that provides quality water to the public. I have been fortunate to be able to work on the new Powell Butte, Kelly Butte, and Washington Park reservoirs.

What is one piece of advice that you have for someone entering your field now?

Work on your people skills. Building relationships and the ability to work with others will be the key to a successful career in engineering. Typical interactions will not be limited to other engineers, but will include members of the public, contractors, planners, regulators and even politicians.

What is your favorite pasttime?

Anything outdoors. I am an avid snowboarder and I enjoy hiking, camping, and surfing.

Family and/or pets? What are their ages and/or names?

I have been married for over 14 years to my wife, Melissa, and we have an 8-year-old daughter, Josie.  We also have a golden retriever named Stella.

Join Our Team: Customer Accounts Specialist I, Environmental Program Specialist, Program Specialist, Senior Engineer

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If 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 
Customer Accounts Specialist I  Full Time  $17.95 - $25.88 Hourly

Mon. 2/27/17 4:30 PM Pacific Time

 Apply Here!
Environmental Program Specialist Full Time $5,033.00 - $6,709.00 Monthly

Thurs. 3/9/17 4:30 PM Pacific Time

Apply Here!
Program Specialist Full Time  $5,033.00 - $6,709.00 Monthly

Fri. 3/3/17 4:30 PM Pacific Time

Apply Here!
Senior Engineer Full Time  $7,468.00 - $9,956.00 Monthly

Fri. 3/10/17 4:30 PM Pacific Time

Apply Here!

All completed applications for this position must be submitted no later than 4:30 p.m. on the closing date and hour of this recruitment. E-mailed and/or faxed applications will not be accepted.

Learn More About the Water Bureau


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

Additional Cryptosporidium Detected in Bull Run Water

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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.