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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

GENERAL INFORMATION: 503-823-7404

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Groundwater: Portland’s Buried Treasure

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Many Portlanders are familiar with the Bull Run Watershed – Portland’s main water supply of fresh, clean water – tucked away in the protected wilderness of the Mt. Hood National Forest. But did you know that Portland also has a second supply of high-quality water?

The Columbia South Shore Well Field

The Columbia South Shore Well Field

The Columbia South Shore Well Field (CSSWF) is used as a secondary source to the Bull Run Watershed, during an annual maintenance operation, in the summer when the region’s demand increases or when the Bull Run cannot be used, such as in the winter when heavy rains can cause turbidity to rise in the Bull Run. Over the past 10 years, Portland has used anywhere from 0.01 to 5.8 billion gallons of groundwater annually.

The CSSWF is the second largest drinking water source in the State of Oregon, with about half of the daily capacity of Portland’s Bull Run supply. Currently, the Portland Water Bureau is serving one hundred percent groundwater.

Groundwater Water Quality

The groundwater from Portland’s production wells meets or exceeds all safe drinking water standards, so it’s treated similarly to the water from the Bull Run with chlorine, ammonia, and sodium hydroxide.

Groundwater quality is closely monitored at individual drinking water wells, and at the inlet and outlet of the Groundwater Pump Station. This is where groundwater blended from individual wells enters the distribution system.

How Much Groundwater Is There?

Colubmbia South Shore Well Field AquifersThe short answer is: a lot! The detailed answer is that the Columbia South Shore Well Field can sustainably produce about 80 million gallons of safe drinking water per day. The City holds water rights that would allow about another 200 million gallons per day of groundwater to be pumped for future municipal use.

Protecting the Groundwater Supply

Groundwater Protection Area"The Columbia South Shore Well Field is right here in town, so we all play a role in preserving this vital drinking water source,” says Doug Wise, Groundwater Protection Program Manager with the Water Bureau’s Resource Protection and Planning Group.

See below for several ways you can help protect our groundwater supply:

Learn more about how the Portland Water Bureau’s Groundwater Protection Program is working to keep the groundwater supply safe at https://www.portlandoregon.gov/water/29890.

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Attend the Portland Utility Board Meeting Today at 4 p.m.

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The Portland Utility Board (PUB) is a citizen oversight body for the Portland Water Bureau and Bureau of Environmental Services that advises City Council on water, sewer, stormwater and solid waste financial plans and rates.

Meeting Information

The next PUB meeting will be held today at the Portland Building. Meeting information is below.

Date: Tuesday, March 7
Time: 4:00 p.m. to 6:30 p.m.
Location: The Portland Building, Room C

For more information about the Portland Utility Board, including meeting minutes and agendas, visit https://www.portlandoregon.gov/cbo/68272.

Lead Hazard Reduction Grant Opportunity for Community Organizations in Portland

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The Portland Water Bureau’s award-winning Lead Hazard Reduction Program (LHRP) provides education, outreach, testing, and remediation to those at high-risk for lead exposure by working with local agencies and non-profits that are experienced in lead education.

The LHRP doesn’t just focus on hazards from lead in water but all hazards posed by lead. In Portland, the most common source of lead exposure is from lead-based paint. The program targets those most at risk for lead poisoning by providing resources to reduce lead hazards in homes, free blood lead testing, and community education and outreach regarding lead hazards.

The LHRP was developed in coordination with state and local public health agencies to comply with the federal Lead and Copper Rule.

Apply for a Lead Hazard Reduction Grant

Community organizations and governmental agencies that conduct lead hazard reduction education and outreach services in the Portland-area are encouraged to apply for a 2017-18 Portland Water Bureau Lead Hazard Reduction Program grant.

If your organization has identified a need for lead hazard reduction in your community and have ideas for addressing that need, please consider submitting an application.

The application is available online.

Application Deadline

Applications are due to the Lead Hazard Reduction Program by Friday, March 31, 2017 at 5:00 p.m.  If you have any questions, please contact the Lead Hazard Reduction Program at (503) 823-1547. 

Sarah Messier
Water Quality

3 Things You Never Knew About Portland’s Groundwater

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Groundwater Awareness Week may be coming to a close, but there's still much to learn about Portland's secondary water source in the Columbia South Shore Well Field.

Here's a handy infographic with three facts you may not have known about Portland's groundwater. Click here for a downloadable version.

Continue learning about Portland's groundwater at www.portlandoregon.gov/water/groundwater.

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Water Bureau Returns to 100 Percent Bull Run Water

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On March 15, the Portland Water Bureau will return to the Bull Run Watershed as its drinking water source. The decision to re-activate Bull Run was made after conferring with the bureau’s regulators at the Oregon Health Authority and in consultation with our public health partners at Multnomah County.

On Feb. 13, the Portland Water Bureau activated water from the Columbia South Shore Well Field in response to recent low detections of Cryptosporidium in the Bull Run. Using the high-quality secondary source allowed for the bureau to conduct further monitoring and investigation, and work with health officials to monitor community health data. Based on data collected and investigations conducted, the bureau continues to believe the health risk to the public from Bull Run water is low.

“Our top priority is to protect public health,” said Water Bureau Administrator Mike Stuhr. “The evidence and data collected, along with input from our partners with the Multnomah County Health Department and regulators at the Oregon Health Authority, indicates the risk remains low.”

The Multnomah County Health Department routinely monitors for illness caused by Cryptosporidium. To assure adequate reporting Multnomah County health officials issued a provider alert to local clinicians on Feb. 1, 2017, to inform them of the Water Bureau’s findings so that suspected cases would be tested. Even with this additional awareness, public health officials report there have actually been fewer than expected cases of Cryptosporidium illness reported so far in 2017.

“Our ongoing surveillance for Cryptosporidium illness has not detected any unexpected increase,” said Multnomah County and Tri-County Health Officer Dr. Paul Lewis. “At this time the general public does not need to take any additional precautions. As always, we recommend that people with severely compromised immune systems discuss their individual health needs with their physicians.”

The most recent detection for Cryptosporidium was from a sample collected March 8, 2017, that had one oocyst. While it is likely that low-level detections of Cryptosporidium from the Bull Run will continue, current evidence from public health data, monitoring results, and watershed investigations, as well as extensive consultation with public health officials, have provided confidence in the Portland Water Bureau’s decision to resume delivering Bull Run water.

The bureau will continue to sample the Bull Run for Cryptosporidium and gather information about these detections. The public and the media are encouraged to view all sampling results posted to the City’s website at www.portlandoregon.gov/water/cryptoresults. The media will also be notified of any further low-level detections on a weekly basis, if they occur. The bureau will also notify the media and public immediately should further testing results indicate a risk to public health.

The Portland Water Bureau informs the media and sensitive users when there is a change in water source or significant operational changes. It may take up to two weeks, depending on location, for 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.