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The City of Portland, Oregon

Portland Water Bureau

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How do you clean your pipes? We used an ice pig.

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Crews conducting the ice pigging testIn May, our water quality team tried out a new technology to clean the inside of our water mains: ice pigging.

Similar to how we use a toothbrush to remove the biofilm that grows on our teeth, ice pigging uses an ice slushy to gently scrub the inside of the pipe. This scrubbing removes the biofilm normally present in the water mains throughout our system, without impacting the integrity of the pipe. Biofilm, while generally harmless to humans, can have negative impacts on water quality.

We are testing out this technology to measure its benefits in our system and see if it would be a useful tool to use in areas that need a deep cleaning or are challenging to clean using traditional flushing methods.

Site Selection

The site we chose for this ice pigging trial is a four-block stretch of water main that is watched closely by our water quality engineers. Because this particular stretch of water main is located on a dead-end street with only a few homes, the water doesn’t pass through the pipe quickly, which results in biofilm. The presence of the biofilm uses up the disinfectant in the water more rapidly than at other locations in our system. The goal of the ice pigging to is remove the biofilm and provide a long-term improvement of the water quality at this location.

Ice pigging truckRecipe for an Ice Pig

Ice pigging itself is accomplished by creating a briny ice slush that is then injected into the water main and pushed through the pipe by water from a nearby hydrant.

As the ice pig moves through the pipe, it collects the material it scrubs off the inside of the pipe and pushes it out through another pipe connected to the other end of the water main.

The ice pig and the material it collects is then disposed of into the sanitary sewer system.

The Results

The immediate results at our trial were dramatic with a lot of material cleaned out of the pipe. But the real test will be in the months and years to come as our water quality engineers continue to keep a close eye on the water quality in this location.

Explore More with the Free Washington Park Free Shuttle

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Now that school's out for the summer, you'll need to find fun trips and outdoor activities for your kids to enjoy.

What about a car-free trip to Washington Park using the free shuttle? This summer, you can leave your car at home, hop on the MAX, and let the free Washington Park shuttle do the driving for you.

Adventure-ready little ones, no driving distractions for mom, and a park full of adventure...what else could a busy parent ask for?

Building Earthquake-Ready Infrastructure at Washington Park

As a public utility, we work hard to ensure that water keeps flowing to homes and businesses every day. Part of this involves keeping an eye on the future water needs of Portlanders. Whether we’re planning for earthquake safety, climate change, or future water quality needs, we’re working to ensure that today and tomorrow’s water supply is safe from natural disasters or other potential threats to public health.

To help us meet these planning goals, we’re undertaking the Washington Park Reservoir Improvement Project.

For the next seven years, Water Bureau contractors will be building a new, 12.3-million below-ground reservoir at Washington Park. But this just any run-of-the-mill reservoir. That’s because the new reservoir will be engineered to withstand the potentially catastrophic effects of a major earthquake, which means Portlanders’ water system will be stronger and more prepared when the “Big One” hits.

Washington Park Free ShuttleWhile We Work, Let the Shuttle Do the Driving

When complete, the new reservoir will supply water to Portland’s west side and serve more than 360,000 people, including all downtown businesses and residents, 20 schools, and three hospitals. That’s a lot of people! And, as with any major construction project, several streets are closed and parking spaces will be temporarily unavailable through March 2018. We hope you’ll agree that such improvements are a small price to pay to ensure our system—and the people served by it—will be protected ion the future.

Even so, getting to or around the park doesn’t have to be a hassle!

 A free shuttle is running 7-days-a-week with nine stops throughout the park during the summer season. Stops include popular attractions like the International Rose Test Garden, Portland Japanese Garden, Hoyt Arboretum Visitors Center, and the Washington Park MAX station.

The shuttle can be easily accessed just a hop and a skip away from the station’s elevators.

Washington Park Free ShuttleSee Where the Shuttle Can Take You

We’ve invited the media to join us for a ride on the shuttle this Tuesday, June 20 at 10:30 a.m. And you’re invited come along with Facebook Live to get an up-close look at how the shuttle works and the places it can take you.

When: Tuesday, June 20
Time: 10:30 a.m.
Where: The Portland Water Bureau Facebook page

We’ll be broadcasting our shuttle trip on Facebook Live starting at 10:30 a.m.

Head over to Facebook, “like” our page, and you’ll be notified when our live event starts.

See you there!

Why is all that water pouring into the street?

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We get this question a lot when customers see our flushing crews working out in the field.

Pete Terry is a Water Operator Mechanic in our Maintenance and Construction group, and Brian Berends is an Operating Engineer II in our Operations group. Pete and Brian are in charge of flushing all the hydrants across Portland’s water system.

This week, Pete and Brian will be flushing water systems at various locations in Northeast Portland, Southwest Portland, and in Sellwood-Moreland.

So why is this water being flushed in the first place?

Water flushingFlushing is Part of Routine Maintenance

Flushing is sometimes used to improve the water quality in a specific area. This can be either in response to customer calls or as preventative maintenance.

In this specific project, an engineering project is being conducted that may cause customers living in the neighborhoods below to see discolored water. So flushing is being done as a preventative action to prevent you from seeing water discoloration.

The following neighborhoods have a low risk of seeing any affects from our work, but we want to let you know about this work in case you notice a difference in water color or pressure.

  • North Portland: Arbor Lodge, Humboldt, Kenton, Overlook, Piedmont
  • Southeast Portland: Sellwood-Moreland
  • Southwest Portland: Crestwood, West Portland Park

What Nearby Residents Can Expect

The discoloration does not pose a health risk.

If you experience some discoloration in your water from nearby flushing, run the water at one tap for two to three minutes to see if it clears. If it does not clear, wait an hour and try again. When the water runs clear, flush any taps where discolored water was present. Learn more about what you should do if you experience “dirty” water.

Find Water Bureau projects in your areaFind Flushing Projects Near You

Curious to see if there is flushing going on near you?

Visit our new WaterWorks tool, an online mapping application that shows you when, and where, Water Bureau projects are happening in the Portland metro area.

Find WaterWorks at

Celebrating the Slough: Cycle the Well Field

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Cycle the Well Field cyclists

The Portland Water Bureau and the Columbia Slough Watershed Council teamed up for the annual Cycle the Well Field event on Saturday, June 3.

Forty-two cyclists participated in the 17-mile bicycle tour of Portland’s groundwater drinking water source.

Cycle the Well Field cyclists learn about groundwaterCyclists rode through the city’s Columbia South Shore Well Field, stopping along the way learning about groundwater, its role in Portland’s water supply, and how the public can help protect this important resource. The bicycle tour included stops at production and monitoring wells, a stormwater detention pond, the Groundwater Pump Station, and wrapped up with lunch at Blue Lake park.

Here are just a couple of the positive comments received from the participant survey: 

 “I was interested to learn how the well fields supplement the Bull Run Watershed. I never noticed the well sites before and now I will point them out to other people, when we pass them! It was neat to see inside them. I liked learning about the geology of my neighborhood and the Columbia Slough watershed.”

"This was a fun tour. It was very informative. The presenters are clearly expert at what they do. I appreciated how they made sure all the cyclist were safe at crossing and we remained together."

Learn more about Portland’s groundwater and the critical role in serves as a secondary water supply for almost a million people.

Join Our Team: Administrative Assistant and Operating Engineer I

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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 Opportunities at the Water Bureau

Position   Emp. Type   Salary   Closing Date/Time Join Our Team 
Administrative Assistant/Director's Administrative Assistant  Full Time  $4,239.00 - $6,527.00 Monthly Mon. 7/10/17 4:30 PM Pacific Time Apply Here!
Operating Engineer I Full Time $24.83 - $26.00 Hourly Mon. 7/7/17 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.