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The City of Portland, Oregon

Portland Water Bureau

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Water Levels in Reservoir 1 to Rise and Fall this Spring

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Water levels in Reservoir 1 at Mt. Tabor Park will fluctuate this spring and early summer as the Portland Water Bureau conducts maintenance and repair work to the water distribution system.

Park users will see Reservoir 1 empty for almost all of March while it undergoes its semi-annual cleaning, maintenance, and repair work. Draining of Reservoir 1 began Friday February 27.

Additionally, the bureau is also conducting scheduled maintenance work in East Portland over the next few months that will impact water levels in Reservoir 1 in Mt. Tabor Park.

That work consists of installing new valves and controls in three vaults. These vaults house the pipes, valves, and controls that make up the ‘intertie’—a system which permits the passage of water from each of the three large conduits to the water distribution system itself. Work can only be performed on one vault at a time, as the water conduit must be shut down to conduct the work. As water from the conduits flow directly to Mt. Tabor Reservoir 1, it will be impacted by the vault work.

When the water conduit is shut down, the water from the large conduits must be drained. Reservoir 1 will serve as the ‘holding tank’ for this water, where it will then be drained to the combined sewer system. Once the repair work is done for each conduit, they will then be disinfected and that water will be flushed once again to Reservoir 1, before it is drained into the combined sewer system.

For almost all of March, the last two weeks of April, and the last two weeks of May, the reservoir will be emptied and filled in order to flush each of the three conduits after the valve and control work is done. Each conduit flushing cycle will take about two weeks. Water quality or service to local residents will not be affected by the maintenance work.

Flow schematic

Work can only be performed on one conduit at a time. Once the shut-off valve is engaged, the water in the isolated part of the pipe (purple pipe) must be drained into the reservoir, where it will be drained into the sewer system. The amount of water drained can be approximately 2-3 million gallons.

Extreme Make Over – Bull Run Headworks Lab Trailer Improvements

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Headworks lab trailer receives make over

The Portland Water Bureau's Headworks lab trailer was recently relocated and improved in the Bull Run Watershed. The lab is used several times a day by Headworks water treatment operator IIs to perform water quality analyses for process control and regulatory compliance.  The trailer itself was moved from an out-of-the-way corner of the parking area to a location front-and-center of the Headworks campus. 

With the old adage, “you only get one chance to make a first impression,”  in mind, the treatment staff thought it would be a great idea to dress up the trailer to ensure it made a good first impression to visitors.


Exterior entryways constructed from repurposed materials were added along with high efficiency LED lighting.  A new sign using the latest Water Bureau logo was added and modifications were made to the existing painted banners. The interior walls were painted and area lights were added to modernize and brighten up the structure. An unused end of the trailer, known for being a catch-all for clutter, was converted into a blue print and drawing nook with storage racks and viewing surfaces. To add a little extra polish and pizazz to the interior of the trailer, a decorating idea was borrowed from the Bear Creek House. Several historic drawings of the infrastructure and pictures of the river and Headworks were blown up, mounted, and hung on the walls to provide a visual historic perspective on the development of the Bull Run Headworks Facility.

Water treatment operators perform water quality analysis in the new and improved trailer.
Water treatment operators perform water quality analysis in the new and improved trailer.

The improvements were made by staff from Water Treatment, Sandy River Station, Information Technology, Electrical, Industrial Painters, and Graphic Design teams.

Andrew Degner
Water Treatment

City of Portland and Multnomah County Draft 2015 Climate Action Plan, Available for Public Comment

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Solar array at the Groundwater Pumpstation on Portland Water Bureau landThe City of Portland and Multnomah County have released the 2015 draft Climate Action Plan with a goal to reduce carbon emissions by 40 percent by 2030, and 80 percent by 2050.

The plan outlines local strategies for reducing carbon emissions and preparing for climate impacts.

The Portland Water Bureau participated in developing the plan by identifying actions that will reduce the bureau’s contribution to climate change, such as improving the efficiency of water pumps and other energy-intensive operations. The bureau is also committed to increasing its understanding and management of climate risks to the Bull Run watershed and built infrastructure and assets.

Some of the most important Portland Water Bureau actions are mentioned on pages 113, 114, 115, and 116. Additional Water Bureau actions are listed throughout the plan.

Visit to find additional information and download a copy of the draft plan. Comments from the public will be accepted through April 10, 2015.

You can also attend a 2015 Climate Action Plan open house event at the following locations to find out more:

  • Thursday, March 19 at the Velo Cult Bike Shop (5:30 to 7:30PM, 1969 NE 42nd Ave.) 
  • Tuesday, March 24 at the June Key Delta Community Center (5:30 to 7:30 PM, 5940 North Albina St.) 

If you have questions about Portland Water Bureau actions listed in this plan, please contact Kavita Heyn, Climate Science & Sustainability Coordinator, at or 503-823-4724.

Photo: Solar array at the Groundwater Pumpstation on Portland Water Bureau land.

Save the Date: City Utility Rate Review Scheduled for March 12, 2015

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Scheduled for Thursday, March 12, the City of Portland will hold the second annual City Utility Rate Review for the public to talk about drinking water and sewer-storm water rates. 

The City Utility Rate Review is sponsored by the City Budget Office

City Commissioner Nick Fish and management staff from both the Portland Water Bureau and the Bureau of Environmental Services will be on hand to answer questions.

The rate review will be held from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. in the first floor Banquet Room at the Montgomery Park Building, located at 2701 Northwest Vaughn Street.

The Portland Water Bureau invites our customers to attend to learn more about the bureau’s operating budget, capital improvement program and projects, and the challenges of maintaining an aging system and keeping rates affordable. 

Watch the Water Blog for further announcements.

Lindsay Wochnick
Public Information

REMINDER: Proposed Washington Park Reservoir Project Initial Land Use Review Application: Public Comment Period Now Open, Historic Landmarks Commission Meeting Scheduled for March 23

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In February 2015, the City of Portland Bureau of Development Services (BDS) deemed the Portland Water Bureau’s initial Type IV Land Use Review (LUR) application for the proposed Washington Park Reservoir Improvements Project as complete. 

This designation officially opened the public comment period and set the date for the Historic Landmarks Commission public meeting and the City Council hearing.

The Water Bureau’s initial LUR application proposes the removal of the Weir Building (screen house), portions of lower Reservoir 4’s basin, and upper Reservoir 3’s basin in Washington Park. The gatehouses, dams, and other historic features will be protected and restored.

Project Details
In order to comply with federal and state mandates, and ensure a healthy, resilient, and secure water system, the Portland Water Bureau is moving forward with a project to update the Washington Park reservoir site.

Proposed project at Washington Park

The Water Bureau’s Washington Park Reservoir Improvements Project proposes to build a new below-ground reservoir in the same general footprint as the existing upper Reservoir 3, with a reflecting pool on top.

Upper Reservoir 3 Lower Reservoir 4
Left to right: Upper Reservoir 3 and lower Reservoir 4

The lower Reservoir 4 basin and the slope to the west are needed to provide landslide abatement; the slope will be restored to its pre-reservoir condition. Reservoir 4 will be disconnected from the public drinking water system and a lowland habitat area/bioswale and a reflecting pool are also proposed in the Reservoir 4 basin. Work will primarily be within the Historic District.

The project addresses major reservoir issues, including recurrent landslide damage, compliance with federal law, seismic vulnerability, and deterioration of the 120-year-old structures.

Key Dates of NotePublic Comments
Public comments on the initial LUR application received by Monday, March 9 will be part of the official record and included in the staff report presented during the upcoming Historic Landmarks Commission public meeting. Access a courtesy copy of the LUR application on the Water Bureau’s project webpage at

Comments can be e‑mailed to, faxed to 503-823-5630, or mailed to:

Hillary Adam
Land Use Services, Bureau of Development Services
RE: LU 14-249689
1900 SW Fourth Avenue, Suite 4500
Portland, OR 97201

Please reference Land Use Review number LU 14-249689 in any communications.

Public comments after Monday, March 9 can be mailed to the Historic Landmarks Commission at 1900 SW Fourth Avenue, Suite 4500, Portland, OR 97201 or faxed to 503-823-5630.

Public Meeting Testimony
A Historic Landmarks Commission public meeting is scheduled for 1:30 p.m. Monday, March 23 on the second floor of 1900 SW Fourth Avenue, Conference Room 2500A.

During the meeting, the Commission will listen to public testimony and review the initial Type IV LUR application and staff report that includes mailed, faxed, or e-mailed public comments. After the meeting, the Commission will forward a letter with recommendations to the Portland City Council.

The City Council is scheduled to hold a public hearing on Thursday, April 23 to make the final decision on the initial LUR application.

Next Steps
In spring 2015, the Water Bureau will submit a second LUR application package that includes two Type III applications. The LUR package will propose the construction of a new covered reservoir, reflecting pools, lowland habitat area/bioswale, walkways, and historic preservation and rehabilitation actions.

The second LUR application process will also include comments period, public meeting, and hearing to ensure public notification and the opportunity to comment before a final land use decision is rendered. 

Before work permits are issued or construction begins, all LUR applications must be approved. This includes the initial Type IV LUR application and the Type III LUR application package.

The LUR applications are a result of a robust public involvement process that included multiple public open houses and nine Community Sounding Board (CSB) meetings that guided design for the required visible features of the Washington Park project.

Additional Information & Contacts
For detailed project information, visit the project webpage or contact Water Bureau Public Information staff by e-mail or at 503-823-3028.

Visit the Bureau of Development Services’ website or call 503-823-7300 for more information on the land use review application process.

Lindsay Wochnick
Public Information