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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.

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Portland Water Bureau Encourages Student STEM Heroes

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May 2-10 is STEM Week Oregon, a state-wide celebration to engage young people in activities involving science, technology, engineering and math (STEM).  The U.S. Department of Education reports that only 16 percent of American high school seniors are proficient in math and interested in a STEM career.  The Portland Water Bureau is working to change that by sponsoring a limited number of teachers to implement a curriculum enhancement called “STEMhero” (

STEMhero is a bilingual, technology-based, program that leads students through collecting and analyzing data directly from their home and/or school’s utility meters, then engineering and testing real-world solutions to save water and energy.  STEMhero is middle school-focused and aligned to state science standards.

The response from teachers and students has been great!  One teacher notes, “STEMhero was an invaluable component of our students’ experience last year. We saw students begin to understand how water usage works in homes and businesses. What’s more, several students became genuinely invested in exploring ways to make changes in their own water use at home, school, and work…” 

Teachers using the program have been impressed with how easy it is to use, and how it enhances connections for students, tying learning to their lives.  In a world that needs more STEM professionals, it’s exciting to see kids making these real-life applications of STEM skills.

Want to get STEMhero for your school? 
To learn more and request the program, call 414-540-8788 or e-mail

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Use the #StemWeekOregon hashtag to contribute to the Twitter conversation!

Analyzing Water Samples Collected from Forest to Faucet

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Since the early 1960s, the Portland Water Bureau has been fortunate to have a water quality testing laboratory, first in the Bull Run Watershed near the treatment facility, then for the last 23 years at the Interstate facility. 

Currently, the lab has eight full time employees: a laboratory manager, a laboratory coordinator, four laboratory analytical specialists, and two laboratory analyst IIs.

The lab is accredited to run drinking water analysis by Oregon Health Authority. To maintain accreditation, the following is required by the lab:

  • Pass two blind performance tests each year for each of the 30 analytical methods.
  • Maintain Standard Operating Procedures (SOPS).
  • Have a Quality Manual.
  • Conduct an in-house assessment by accreditors every two years.
  • Document everything!

By the Numbers

  • The lab performs approximately 30 analytical methods for drinking water and environmental water samples.
  • The lab performs about 95 percent of the drinking water analyses that are required for compliance with state and federal drinking water regulations for the bureau.
  • Last year, the lab processed approximately 11,000 samples for compliance and process control, producing approximately 58,000 sample results plus another 30,000 QC results. Samples were collected from the Bull Run Reservoirs and Lake, Lusted conduits, the ground water system, the distribution system, water mains construction and repair projects, water system customers, and research projects.

Water Bureau Careers Showcased at Women in Trades Career Fair

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During the month of May we will feature the stories of some of the talented and dedicated women in trades at the Portland Water Bureau. 

Many of these women volunteer for the annual Women in Trades Career Fair, produced by Oregon Tradeswomen, Inc. on May 14. This interactive fair encourages middle and high school girls and women to explore the possibility of a future career in the trades.

For more than 13 years, women from the Portland Water Bureau have been a key part of this unique event with the goal of promoting and supporting the advancement and employment of women in the trades.

“The Portland Water Bureau is a great place to work and build a career. I am proud that we have steady participation in the Women in Trades Career Fair, which strengthens our future workforce,” said Michael Stuhr, Water Bureau Administrator.

Thank you to the professional and talented women in the Water Bureau who have dedicated their career to the trades.

Get to Know the Portland Water Bureau Tradeswomen

Nicki Villebrun-Nelson

Nicki was a Seasonal Worker for the Water Bureau for seven years. She already had a commercial driver’s license and had been a Utility Worker II since 1996. Nicki worked in the field on a service truck for years before becoming a Mower Operator in our Grounds Department.

Jasmine Varela

Jasmine is a lifelong coach. She volunteers as a volleyball coach and a coach for the Water Bureau. She donates her time at summer youth programs sponsored by the Water Bureau. She teaches CPR classes and is CPR certified. She also teaches about our water system to students at Clackamas Community College and other school groups she visits.

Jasmine was hired as an Apprentice Utility Worker II in 2004. After six months, she applied for the Meter Tech 1 and became Backflow Assembly Certified. She is now working as an Operating Engineer. Jasmine joined the Water tapping team in 2007 and became an American Water Works Association (AWWA) National Champion in 2008 for the Portland Water Bureau.

Lindsay Birkenfield

Lindsay used to work at a machine shop. She is currently a Utility Worker II, training to operate loaders and backhoes. She was hired in July 2012 and has her commercial driver’s license with an upgrade to drive dump trucks and be a Construction Equipment Operator. She heard about the Water Bureau’s apprentice program from the Women in Trades Career Fair.

TRAFFIC ADVISORY 05/06/16: Portion of Northbound Lane at SE 60th Avenue Closed to Through Traffic on Monday

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Approximately 100 feet of the northbound lane of SE 60th Avenue just south of SE Hawthorne Boulevard will be closed to through traffic from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Monday May 9, 2016. Flaggers will direct traffic around the construction zone.

A Portland Water Bureau Construction and Maintenance crew will be excavating in the north bound lane in order to install monitoring equipment.  

Motorists and bicyclists are urged to use alternate routes. Remember to drive slowly, and exercise caution when traveling in the construction zone.

TRAFFIC ADVISORY 05/06/16: Water Main Installation at NW Savier at NW 22nd—Flaggers will direct traffic

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Portland Water Bureau crews are conducting water main work on NW Savier Street between NW 21st and NW 22nd avenues. In order to conduct the work in the intersection, flaggers will direct traffic around the construction zone. The work will occur Monday, May 9 through Tuesday, May 17, Monday-Friday from 8 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.

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.