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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


More Contact Info

Fall Color in Water

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As the weather turns colder and the leaves begin to change and fall, Portlanders may notice that our water takes on a subtle tea color. This is a normal change that occurs around this time every year due to organic materials that have washed into the Bull Run Watershed. Fall rains are responsible for carrying materials into reservoirs and streams before the water is treated. Our drinking water is treated but not filtered, which is why you may see color at your tap water or staining the filters in your business or home.

The color is produced by tannins found in the organic materials, similar to the color you might see in a cup of tea. Tannins do not produce any negative health effects, nor do they change the quality of our water. The length of the fall color season depends on the strength and duration of the rains and the amount of organic material that is carried into the system.

As always, the Portland Water Bureau constantly monitors the water entering our distribution system to continue to meet all state and federal regulations for safe drinking water. Customers will be notified of any changes to water quality if they occur.

Any questions may be directed to the Water Quality Information Line at 503-823-7525.

Rainy Day DIY Water Projects for Kids

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Wondering what to do with your tots during the rainy days to come? Portland Water Bureau has ideas for you! Here are three easy water-themed projects you can do with items from your home and our own supply of Bull Run water straight from the tap!

Sponge Boats from


  • Thick kitchen sponges
  • Craft popsicle sticks
  • Duct tape or gaffer tape in one or two colors
  • Craft knife
  • Scissors

How To

  • Cut the top two corners off your sponges to they resemble a house shape. A large, sharp pair of scissors works best for this. Then, using your craft knife cut a slit slightly wider than your popsicle stick in the middle for the mast.
  • Overlap two pieces of duct tape for the sail. To make them proportional, try to make the sail about as wide as the sponge. You can let the sail be longer than necessary as it will be cut down later.
  • Now is a great time to let kids decorate the sails. Duct tape can be cut into smaller strips to make patterns, or let kids draw with permanent marker.
  • Once the sails have been decorated, cut the messy ends off.
  • Cut a small slit with your craft knife and slide it onto the popsicle stick mast. Remember to give it a slight bend so it can catch the wind. To keep it in place, use a thin piece of tape cut in half lengthwise and wind it around the top and bottom of the mast.
  • Float your boats!

 Water Cycle Bag from


  • Permanent markers
  • Plastic baggy
  • Small plastic or paper cup
  • ¼ cup water
  • Food coloring (blue)
  • Optional: construction paper for cutting out clouds or other elements for decorating

How To

  • Mark your baggy with the water cycle. The water and cup will sit in the bottom corner, so write “Bull Run Watershed” there. Water accumulates in the Bull Run Watershed, which is the source of our water distribution system! Then, going clockwise around the bag with arrows in between write “evaporation,” “condensation,” and “precipitation.”
  • Put 1 or 2 drops of food coloring into your water and stir, then pour into the cup.
  • Mark where the water level falls on the cup.
  • Place the cup of Bull Run water from your tap in the “Bull Run Watershed” corner.
  • Seal the bag, making sure to leave some air.
  • Carefully tape the baggy to a sunny window so the cup does not spill and watch the water cycle take place throughout the day! Rain accumulates in the watershed, which flows down to Portland using the power of gravity. During its trip, some of the water evaporates before it reaches our taps. Evaporated water condenses into clouds which then rain and start the cycle all over again.

Cloud in a Jar from


  • Glass jar with a lid
  • Hot water (preferably boiling)
  • Hair spray
  • Ice cubes

How To

  • Turn the lid of the jar upside down and fill it with ice cubes. Set aside for later.
  • Start by boiling Bull Run water from your tap, then pouring it into your jar. About 1/3 cup should be enough.
  • Quickly spray the hair spray into the jar. This will give the water something to condense to.

Place the lid with the ice cubes on top of the jar and watch as your cloud forms! Take a look outside—do our Portland clouds look like your jar cloud?

Powell Butte Reservoir Piping Flow Meter Testing Scheduled for the Week of November 7

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During the week of November 7, 2016, the Portland Water Bureau will conduct a test of flow meters located in the underground reservoir piping at Powell Butte Nature Park in Southeast Portland.

The half-day test will consist of Water Bureau operating engineers slowly draining approximately one-thousand gallons of de-chlorinated water from the reservoirs, to a discharge pipe, through the flow meters, and then into Johnson Creek.The test will confirm the meters are accurately measuring water flowing through the pipe and can monitor future discharges.

Water Bureau representatives will be onsite at Powell Butte throughout the entire duration of the test to supervise the operation. The chlorine, flowrate, temperature, turbidity, and PH of all water discharged to Johnson Creek will be closely monitored to ensure compliance with all applicable environmental and regulatory requirements.

For questions about the operation, please contact Terry Black Public Information, at 503-823-1168 or by e-mail at  

SW Washington Way in Washington Park - Closed Monday

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Due to an opening in the weather, paving work will be occurring on SW Washington Way (in the Holocaust Memorial Area within Washington Park) on Monday, November 7 from approximately 9am-5pm. This schedule is tentative and may change. Neighbors who may typically exit the park on SW Washington Way will need to exit onto Burnside during the closure.

Vehicles will not be allowed to access Washington Way during the closure period. Barricades and signage will be in place. This closure is being performed by Portland Parks and Recreation.

For more information on the one-day closure, please contact Victor Sanders at Portland Parks & Recreation:

Important Information About Lead in Drinking Water

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Regional water providers in the Bull Run service area found elevated levels of lead in drinking water in some high-risk homes and buildings known to have lead in their pipes. These water samples are from 112 worst-case homes known to have lead solder. When more than 10 percent of these homes are above the action level it triggers an exceedance. In the most recent round of sampling 14 of these 112 homes were above the action level of 15ppb.

Lead is rarely found in Portland’s source water and has not been used in service lines. The major source of lead in tap water in Portland is the corrosive action of water on building plumbing components that contain lead, such as faucets and lead-based solder. However, by far the biggest sources of exposure to lead are from lead-based paint and lead-contaminated dust or soil.

More than 19,000 children have been tested for lead in Multnomah County in the past three years and only 184 were confirmed with elevated blood lead levels. None of these investigations identified water as the main source of exposure.

The Portland Water Bureau has been treating Bull Run drinking water to make it less corrosive by raising the pH of the water. This pH adjustment reduces lead in tap water up to 70 percent. The Portland Water Bureau is concluding a study to help determine what additional improvements can be made to minimize the corrosion of lead in household plumbing.

The following are some of the steps you can take to reduce your exposure to lead in your water including:

  • Run your water for 30 seconds to 2 minutes to flush out lead or until it becomes colder.
  • Use cold water for cooking and preparing baby formula.
  • Test your water for lead.

Customers are encouraged to contact the LeadLine at or 503-988-4000 to learn more about reducing exposure to all sources of lead or to request a free lead in water test from participating providers.

Please click here for Frequently Asked Questions about the October 2016 exceedance of the Lead & Copper Rule.