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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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The Water Bureau is a Best-Practice Leader in Using Business Cases

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The Portland Water Bureau is a noted leader among water utilities for analyzing its costs and benefits through business cases (a rationale for why we do a particular task or project).

The Water Research Foundation (WRF) published a report in July 2016 highlighting how we use business cases to evaluate the benefits and costs of projects, operations, and maintenance activities.

The Water Bureau is one of the first utilities to use a triple-bottom-line method in these business cases that looks at benefits and costs in financial, social, and environmental terms. For example, a broken water pipe that damages a major highway may cost a few hundred thousand dollars to fix in purely economic terms. If the pipe shuts the highway down; however, the social costs from delayed traffic, blocked emergency routes, and interrupted trade may add up to millions.

WRF ReportThe bureau is also a leader in quantifying social and environmental factors with monetary values. Translating social and environmental factors into dollars in the business case helps decision-makers make more informed choices.

The WRF report, titled Capital Funding Imperatives: Best Practices for Capital Improvement Programs, describes best practices in balancing needs, implementing systems, using business cases, involving stakeholders, and obtaining approval for utility capital programs.

The executive summary of the report is available on the WRF site.

Join our Team: Laboratory Supervisor

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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 Job Available at the Water Bureau

 Laboratory Supervisor Full Time $5,830.00 - $7,784.00 Monthly Mon. 08/22/16 4:30 PM Pacific Time

Maintenance & Survey of SE Portland Water Main

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Pipe measurements are taken using a laser tool

In June 2016, Portland Water Bureau civil engineers led an interdisciplinary team to survey a water main in southeast Portland. The 16-inch ductile iron main is located inside a crawlspace less than three feet high underneath the surface of a main street of travel.

During the operation, the Water Bureau called upon All Hazards Rescue to provide an extraction team in case of an emergency. Support and assistance during the assessment also came from other Water Bureau groups and teams, including Operations, Maintenance & Construction, and Safety & Risk.

The information gathered during this investigation will be used to design and construct new supports for the 16-inch water main.

Washington Park Project Receives Community Engagement Award

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The Cascade Chapter of the International Association for Public Participation (IAP2) recognized the Portland Water Bureau and JLA Public Involvement with a 2016 Public Involvement Best Practice Award for the design phase of the Washington Park Reservoir Improvements Project.

Project team displays awardThe award acknowledges projects in Oregon and Southwest Washington that promote meaningful and innovative opportunities for community engagement.

"The project was recognized for successfully engaging interested and impacted stakeholders, resulting in meaningful input and broad-based support for both the designs and the process,” commented IAP2 on Facebook.

During the design phase of the project, the Water Bureau and JLA team conducted stakeholder interviews, met nine times with a Community Sounding Board, regularly briefed many of the area neighborhood associations and business groups, met with historic advocacy groups, and communicated with the Portland Historic Landmarks Commission. Broader community outreach included sending mailers to neighboring addresses, outreach within the park, public open houses (both in-person and on-line), and presentations to Explore Washington Park.

Based on feedback, the following community values will be reflected in the project’s visual features: 

  • Large expanses of water (reflecting pools/water feature)
  • Retaining the historic character (accommodate and restore historic elements, incorporate new elements in deference to the historic district)
  • Interpretive elements, quiet spaces, and habitat (lowland wildlife habitat area, bioswale)

For additional information on the project, visit

Portland Water Bureau Returns to 100 Percent Bull Run Water

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Tomorrow, Aug. 10, the Portland Water Bureau will return to 100 percent Bull Run water. On July 25, the Portland Water Bureau blended a small portion of water from wells at the Columbia South Shore Wellfield to perform its annual maintenance operation of the groundwater system. Now that this maintenance operation is complete, the groundwater system is ready for use if needed for seasonal or emergency use.

Public notification is not required but the Portland Water Bureau informs the media and sensitive water users, as a practice, when it activates groundwater and when it has significant operational changes. The media and sensitive water users are again notified when the Portland Water Bureau returns to 100 percent Bull Run water.

As a result of careful planning, Portland is fortunate to have access to two excellent water sources that allow us to be prepared to meet the range of supply and demand conditions that occur in the Portland water system.

The Columbia South Shore Well Field is a high-quality water supply that meets or surpasses all federal and state drinking water regulations.

The city’s groundwater supply is a complex system composed of electric pumps, chemical feed systems, electronic controls and other equipment that must be operated regularly to identify maintenance needs. By doing this operation routinely, the bureau will ensure the reliability of the system when needed, either in an emergency or to meet seasonal supply demands.

During the groundwater maintenance run, the average contribution of groundwater to the system has been approximately 15 percent of the total daily water demand. Due to the low percentage of groundwater being blended with the Bull Run Source, the bureau does not expect there to be a large change in water chemistry. It takes up to two weeks, depending on location and overall water demand, for the 100 percent Bull Run water to make its way through the distribution system to homes and businesses.

Customers with questions are encouraged to call the Water Line at 503-823-7525.