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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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Tuesday Water Trivia

Crews installing new water mainWhen you turn on your facuet to pour a refreshing glass of cold water, do you ever stop to think about how that that water made it to your house?

From repairs to preventative maintenance, our crews are responsible for maining a vast and complicated underground system of pipes and mains that deliver hundreds of thousands of gallons of water to homes and businesses every day.

If the Portland Water Bureau stretched pipes end to end, to which city would it reach?

(A) Las Vegas
(B) Missoula
(C) Chicago


(C) Chicago

More than 2,200 miles of pipe deliver water throughout the Portland metropolitan area. That's a lot of pipe that water rate payers maintain. Some mains are 100-years-old -- that's calling "aging infrastructure" in the bureau's budget discussions.

Learn more about our water system here.

The Water Bureau and IRC Aluminum Team Up to Conserve 815,000 Gallons of Water Each Year

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What do you call it when Oregon’s largest water provider partners with local businesses to find ways to conserve water and save money? Some might say it’s a pretty BIG deal.

The Portland Water Bureau’s Business, Industry, and Government (BIG) Water Efficiency Program helps businesses find ways to conserve water by diagnosing increases in water usage, finding inefficient or malfunctioning equipment, and helping to improve existing methods and processes.

One local business that’s found ways to save money and reduce water use through the BIG Program is IRC Aluminum & Stainless.

The waterjets at work

IRC Aluminum & Stainless

Located in North Portland’s industrial district, IRC Aluminum & Stainless is a local, family-owned metal distributor providing waterjet cutting services for companies all across the country. IRC’s client list includes machine shops, government and defense agencies, construction companies, and many other heavy industrial groups.

IRC also works with creative groups that build and install commercial and wayfinding signage for large medical complexes, sports stadiums, and universities. The Moda Center? IRC made their exterior and interior signage. The “Silicon Forest” public art at the Interstate/Rose Quarter Yellow Line MAX station? IRC fabricated the station artwork designed by Brian Borrello.

To find out more about this local business’ experience with our BIG Program, we sat down with Jackson Ford, an outside sales representative at IRC Aluminum & Stainless, to ask him a few questions and tour their large industrial facility.

How did you find out about the BIG Program?

Jackson Ford poses with a piece of material cut with the waterjets

An employee of ours contacted the Portland Water Bureau a few years ago about commercial water efficiency incentives offered by the City of Portland. At the time, IRC had designed and constructed a new closed-loop water system to reuse the water that was being circulated through the chillers that cool our waterjet machines.

The new system produced dramatic results almost immediately. After telling our story, the Portland Water Bureau came out to IRC's facility and inspected the new water reuse system. Soon after their analysis, we were invited to join the BIG Program.

Tell us about your experience with the BIG Program? How did the process work for your company?

The Big Program was great for IRC. We have always made it a major priority within our company to be as environmentally friendly as possible. Not only is it the right thing to do, but it also contributes to preserving the state's resources and minimizing our carbon footprint as an industrial company. IRC was eventually presented with an award by the BIG Program for our new water system and its proven efficiency.

How much water are you saving now?

As a result of the newly implemented water system, IRC was able to save and reuse approximately 815,000 gallons of water annually. This equates to about 28% in direct water savings based on our previous operational water use.

Are there any other efficiencies that resulted from the BIG Program?

Since participating in the BIG Program, IRC has entertained many other avenues for constant improvement to our daily operational efficiency, including using less costly and more environmentally friendly backing materials during the cutting process. We also upgraded to more modern and fuel-efficient trucks. Recently, IRC installed new energy efficient lighting throughout our cutting and warehousing facilities.

IRC was able to save and reuse approximately 815,000 gallons of water annually.

What would you say to another business that is thinking about reach out to the BIG Program?

If there are clearly major areas where cost-effective efficient changes can be made, then I would strongly recommend doing so to any small local business.

Often times there may be major expenses and capital improvements associated with making an efficiency upgrade. But they tend to pay for themselves in the long-run. And those savings can make a big impact on your bottom line. The BIG Program is an excellent incentive for companies looking to make a difference for themselves and the City of Portland.

Is there anything else you’d like to add?

We’d like to thank the Portland Water Bureau and the BIG Program for giving us the opportunity to showcase our efforts towards water efficiency.

Learn More About the BIG Program

Interested in learning how the BIG Program can help your business save water and money? Visit our Commercial Water Efficiency page for more information, commercial water savings tips, and contact details.

Join Our Team: Water Treatment Operator II

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 Opportunity at the Water Bureau

Position   Emp. Type   Salary   Closing Date/Time Join Our Team 
Water Treatment Operator II  Full Time  $26.31 - $34.01 Hourly Mon. 6/12/17 4:30 PM Pacific Time Apply Here!

All completed applications for this position must be submitted no later than 4:30 p.m. on the closing date and hour of this recruitment. E-mailed and/or faxed applications will not be accepted.

Learn More About the Water Bureau


For more information regarding career opportunities at the Water Bureau, contact (503) 823-3515 or e-mail.

Women in Trades: Meet Su Farley, Water Operations Mechanic

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The Portland Water Bureau’s Women in Trades Planning Committee received an award from Oregon Trades Women for the main break simulation workshop at the 2016 Women in Trades Career Fair.

The Women in Trades Career Fair is an annual event produced by Oregon Tradeswomen, Inc. This interactive fair encourages middle and high school girls and women to explore the possibility of a future career in the trades.

This year’s Women in Trades Career Fair will be held on May 19 and 20.

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.

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

Get to Know Su Farley, Water Bureau Tradeswoman

What is your role at the Water Bureau?

I’m a Water Operations Mechanic. I respond to emergencies from 5 p.m. to 2 a.m. Some of the emergencies I help with are main breaks, property side leaks, city-side leaks, emergency locates, shut offs for repairs and many more.

Describe your typical day for us. What does that look like?

First, I transfer calls to my phone. Then I get my work request paperwork from the radio room and triage what needs to be done first in order of priority. Then I head out to my first call and continue until I get additional emergency calls from the Water Control Center. I have to think on my feet a lot. For instance, I prioritize new calls with previous calls and divert to any main break or other water emergency that comes up.

What happens if you get a call for a water emergency while you’re in the field?

If there’s a main break or service leak that is causing damage, I call the on-call supervisor to bring in a crew. After I make that call, I locate the gates and throttle it down until it is under control. In addition, I mark for locates and, if time allows, I locate the main and services and try to pinpoint where the leak is.

What happens when you get back in the office at the end of the day?

At the end of the day, I record my findings in the night log. If there’s work that needs to be done, I email the supervisor and the scheduling folks to generate a work order to get the work done and attach pictures.

What does it mean to be a woman in a field where women have been historically underrepresented?

One more step for womankind!

Either at the Water Bureau or beyond, which women have served as your professional role models or mentors?

My mom.

How do you see fellow tradeswomen supporting each other?

I see great leaps and bounds with women supporting and encouraging one another in the trades!

What else do you want to share about yourself and your work?

Honestly, it’s a tough row to hoe, but now impossible and very rewarding.

Share with us something about your life outside of work.

I own my own business and raised four children by myself. My family is my hobby. I am blessed.

Learn More About Women in Trades Career Fair

To learn more about the Women in Trades Career Fair, visit the Oregon Tradeswomen, Inc. website at

Headed to Sunday Parkways? We’ll Be There!

Water Bureau booth at Sunday ParkwaysIt’s almost time to grab your bike and explore Portland’s parks and neighborhoods at Sunday Parkways. Join the fun on May 21 in Southeast Portland and stop by the Water Bureau booth.  We’ll have free water efficiency devices available and friendly staff there answer questions and share water saving tips.

Keep an eye out for our Water Education Station (WES) – this is a great place to fill up your water bottle along the route.

Portland Water Bureau bannerFree Water Conservation Kits

If we miss you at the event, don’t forget, customers can always pick up a FREE water conservation kit at the Water Bureau’s first floor customer service center at 1120 SW 5th Avenue in downtown Portland.

Learn more about free water efficiency devices available to you.