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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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Out of Sight, But Not Out of Mind

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One of Portland’s most valuable resources is right beneath our feet. We can’t see it, but we do drink it!

Groundwater, found in underground layers of porous rock called aquifers, is a hidden reserve that supplies drinking water to Portland residents. Portland’s groundwater system is essential to meeting peak season water demand in the summer and for ensuring the Portland Water Bureau can provide water in the winter when storms sometimes make the Bull Run source unavailable due to elevated turbidity. This second feature of groundwater is essential to Portland’s ability to continue using the Bull Run source without filtering it.

To help bring groundwater to the surface, the Water Bureau and the Columbia Slough Watershed Council have partnered annually for 10 years to offer a free Groundwater 101 workshop to interested adults and high-school students.

A full house soaks up knowledge at Groundwater 101.

This interactive class teaches groundwater basics including local geology and hydrology, the role groundwater plays in our drinking water system, and what can be done to protect this important resource. 

Citizen scientists test water for dissolved minerals (left) and learn how water moves underground (right).

The most recent workshop was held on November 15, 2014 and the public interest was impressive. The class quickly filled to capacity and a wait-list was established. The workshop coordinators are encouraged by the demand and are working on more opportunities for the public to learn about groundwater.

"The Columbia South Shore Well Field is right here in town, so we all play a role in preserving this vital drinking water source,” says Doug Wise, Groundwater Protection Program Manager with the Water Bureau’s Resource Protection and Planning Group. “Outreach and educational events like Groundwater 101 provide our customers with the knowledge and tools they need to be responsible water stewards.”

To learn more about the groundwater right beneath your feet, including how you can protect this important resource, visit

Lindsay Wochnick
Public Information

TRAFFIC ADVISORY 01/12/15: Survey Work with Rolling Lane Closure on NW Cornell Road for One Day

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For one day on Tuesday, January 13, 2015, the Portland Water Bureau must conduct survey and centerline monument data collection work on NW Cornell Road, between NW Skyline Boulevard and the Audubon Society of Portland's building at 5151 NW Cornell Road in the West Hills area.

The work will be done using a rolling work zone that will close a section of one traffic lane. At times, flaggers will stop traffic in both directions. The lane closure begins at 9:00 a.m. and will continue until 3:30 p.m. the same day. There will be a maximum wait time of five (5) minutes for each direction of traffic.

Motorists and bicyclists are urged to use alternate routes, remember to drive slowly, and exercise caution when traveling in the work area.

Terry Black
Public Information

Join Our Team: Senior Administrative Specialist

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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 Portland 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.

Join our team! 

Senior Administrative Specialist 
Closing Date & Time: Monday, January 26, 2015 at 4:30 PM Pacific Time
Salary: $3,745.00 - $5,765.00 Monthly
Job Type: Full Time
Location: Portland Building, 1120 SW 5th Ave, Oregon

Applications for this position will be accepted, on-line, until 75 completed applications have been received, but will close no later than 4:30 pm, on Monday, January 26, 2015. 

The Senior Administrative Specialist for the Portland Water Bureau is a part of the Water Bureau’s Customer Service group and will provide specialized administrative support for the group.  This is a newly created position which will require the ability to successfully work in a fast-paced environment with competing priorities.  Regular duties include drafting a variety of written materials, performing analysis on customer service programs, monitoring budget expenditures, maintaining records, handling sensitive personnel information, and supporting time-keeping activities. The Senior Administrative Specialist will be assigned complex projects, providing administrative support that requires a high level of technical expertise. Additionally, the Senior Administrative Specialist collects data, analyzes information, applies policies, prepares reports and training materials, and communicates with a broad and diverse audience. While not required, experience with Cayenta Utilities is desirable. 

For additional job information and to apply, START HERE.

Contact Chaunci King, Senior Human Resources Analyst with the Bureau of Human Resources, by e-mail or at 503-823-4034.

Lindsay Wochnick
Public Information

Water Bureau Works to Benefit Western Toad Habitat in the Bull Run watershed

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A western toad at one of the breeding sites in the Bull Run.

The western toad has been identified as a vulnerable species by the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife. 

The two biggest threats to the species are breeding habitat degradation and an egg-destroying pathogen called Saprolegnia ferax. The female western toad needs calm, warm, sunlit, shallow water in which to lay strands of thousands of eggs that will cling to the stems of plants or other underwater objects near the shore.

To help ensure the breeding success of western toads in the Bull Run watershed, the Environmental Compliance Group in the Portland Water Bureau's Resource Protection and Planning Group work each year to protect and enhance the toad’s breeding habitat.

Staff work to clear reed canary grass from one of the breeding sites immediately before the gates are lowered to raises Reservoir 1 to full pool.

Staff from the Water Bureau's Resource Protection and Planning, Operations, and Sandy River Station groups coordinate annually each May to cut and remove reed canary grass from three toad breeding sites in the Bull Run watershed along the upper portion of Reservoir 1. This is done immediately prior to when the Water Bureau raises the reservoir level to full pool in the spring.  Removing the tall, non-native, invasive grass allows sunlight to reach the shallow pools that are formed when the water is raised.  The sunlight provides the warmth needed for egg and juvenile toad development.  

Environmental Specialist (Wildlife Biologist) John Deshler with a western toad at Reservoir 1 in the Bull Run.

This project is one of 49 measures the City committed to implement when it approved the Bull Run Water Supply Habitat Conservation Plan (HCP) in October 2008. The HCP is a 50-year plan to protect and improve aquatic habitat in the Bull Run River and throughout the Sandy River basin while continuing to manage the Bull Run watershed as Portland’s primary water supply.

John Deshler
Resource Protection and Planning Group

Water Bureau Utilizes the Off-Peak Season Effectively

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Around September of every year, the demand for water supply begins to decrease.  By the first of November, the Portland Water Bureau moves into winter demands, also known as the “off-peak” season.

This normal and expected decrease in water demand allows the Water Bureau Operations Group to take facilities out of service that typically run 24/7 in the peak demand period. The Operations Group then shifts gears into a maintenance mode to effectively utilize the off-peak period.

The Water Bureau’s off-peak period is from November 1 to March 31. This is the ideal time for Operations to perform critical maintenance on pumps, tanks, valves, and the transmission system. During this time, engineering projects are scheduled that require portions of the system to be out of service. Due to the large amount of work and short timeframe, the Operations and Engineering groups partner closely to effectively utilize this off-peak period. Members of the Operations Analysis group maintain an active spreadsheet to track all the different projects and monitor for critical scheduling conflicts. 

This year has shaped up to be a busy one for the Operations Group. There are several large capital improvement projects in construction, including the Powell Butte and Kelly Butte Reservoir projects. There is also an internal pipeline inspection of the Washington County Supply Line (WCSL), several corrective maintenance projects, and the regularly scheduled off-peak activities.

Left: An electrician installs a GridBee submersible mixer in the Linnton Tank in NW Portland. Right: An industrial painter cleans the reservoirs at Mt. Tabor.

One of the regularly scheduled off-peak tasks is the cleaning of tanks and reservoirs. Operation engineers and industrial painters clean the in-service open reservoirs at Mount Tabor and Washington Park a minimum of twice a year.

Industrial painters patch cracks on the interior face of the Mt. Tabor reservoirs.

All of our closed storage tanks are on a rotating five-year cleaning schedule. This off-peak period, the Water Bureau has 17 tanks scheduled for cleaning, including the 50-million gallon Powell Butte 1 reservoir.

Left: An operating engineer III (left) and an operating engineer trainee work to replace a ball valve at the Westwood Tank in SW Portland. Right: A team performs maintenance on a flow valve at Westwood Tank.

In addition, there are several special projects this year, including the installation of three tank mixing systems to help address water quality issues, installation of a new standby generator at Calvary Pump Station, replacement of the more than 50-year old Westwood ball valve that has reached end of life, tank leak repairs at Vermont Hills 4 and 5, various pump and motor rebuilds, and the shutdown of the WCSL for internal inspection.

Dan Allison
Water Operations