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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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March 18 Update: NE 23rd Ave. and Skidmore Main Break

A replacement pipe is transported to the work site by Portland Water Bureau crews.

Water Bureau crews have completed the repair of the 30-inch water main at NE 23rd and Skidmore St. that ruptured on Saturday. The 30-inch pipe that failed is a 1915 cast iron transmission main that supplies drinking water to in-town storage facilities but does not directly provide water to customers. A final determination has not been made as to the cause of the pipe failure, but age could have been a factor. On average, Portland Water Bureau crews respond to 200 main breaks a year, which is relatively low when compared to cities of similar size.

 “This was a very rare event and the largest main break we’ve dealt with,” notes Maintenance and Construction Director Ty Kovatch. “Thank you to everyone who was affected for their patience as our crews conducted repair work.”

Property owners, residents, and businesses in the affected area who may have a potential claim can contact the City of Portland Risk Management division at (503) 823-5101.

Work remains for the Water Bureau and our partners at the Portland Bureau of Transportation who will need about one to two weeks to excavate and rebuild the road. Travelers are encouraged to avoid the area in the coming weeks as crews conduct their work.

For additional public health information related to this incident, such as how to safely dispose of water in a basement, visit https://multco.us/multnomah-county/responding-safely-portlands-water-main-break.

Find additional information about this main break event here.

World Water Day 2019: Access to Clean Water is Basic Human Right

This article was originally published in the Portland Tribune on March 19, 2019. Learn more about World Water Day at worldwaterday.org.


We’re cooling down with a clear glass of crisp cold water after a run in the park. We’re brewing a cup of tea to warm up after riding the bus home. Water is in the cupholder in the car or bike, as we drop our kids off at school. It’s in our coffee as we start a long day or a second shift, and on the meeting room table as we prepare for that big presentation. It’s in the local microbrew at the end of a busy week.  Some of us have even invested time and space to storing 14 gallons per person in a safe place, as a reserve in case of an emergency such as a big earthquake.

Portland tap water fuels the memories we create, the challenges we face, and our daily routines. Clean, fresh drinking water is a human right for everyone and all communities.  Seniors. Refugees. Workers. Children. People with disabilities. Portlanders. You.  Me.  We all need water.  On Friday, March 22, World Water Day, spare a thought for folks in places without running water, who have to walk miles, then carry water back to their home each day. 

Remember people in other cities in the United States, where tap water is dangerous. And then be thankful that when you turn on your tap here, you can enjoy your Portland drinking water knowing it’s a healthy choice – at a cost of less than a penny per gallon.

Increasing access to basic services in every neighborhood across the city has been central to my work over the past 10 years on the Portland City Council. No resource is more essential than water, and no other service sustains so many, every second of every day. In Portland, we have the privilege of access to some of the highest quality drinking water in the world.  Water supplied by the Portland Water Bureau comes from two sources: Bull Run Watershed and Columbia South Shore Well Field. With proper conservation, these supplies will last for generations upon generations. Delivering this precious water affordably is crucial to every Portland ratepayer and consumer.

Portland’s water system provides a consistent supply of clean, safe water for nearly a million people. The system protects our water source in the foothills of Mt Hood, transports water from the Bull Run, maintains thousands of miles of pipes, and delivers millions of gallons of safe and quality water. We have 25 wells in the Columbia South Shore well field, 36 pump stations, 58 tanks and reservoirs, 2,260 miles of pipe, 14,375 hydrants, 187,000 customer meters, and 129 drinking fountains, in potable water infrastructure. If we had to buy all this today, it would cost around $10 billion. Your water bill pays to maintain the system, and to keep it in compliance with ever-improving federal and state clean water standards. There’s no doubt that the coming years will introduce new challenges, but the Water Bureau is prepared and working to ensure that you receive the best return on your investment through continuing to provide some of the world’s best water.

For some Portlanders, even small increases in a bill for city services can pose financial challenges. Knowing this, the Portland Water Bureau and the Bureau of Environmental Services (your bill from the Water Bureau also includes sewer and stormwater service charges) offer flexible payment arrangements, discounts for low-income homeowners, grants, rent assistance for water users in multi-family homes, and other options. Call the Customer Service Center at 503-823-7770 to ask about payment arrangements, crisis vouchers, and the Utility Safety Net program. You may also call that number to request a free home water quality test kit, if you’re curious about the potential impacts of the pipes and fixtures in your home on the purity of your drinking water.

This March 22, I invite you to celebrate the water resource that helps Portland thrive, while learning more about how it fuels the Rose City. Visit portlandoregon.gov/water or call the Customer Service Center. Discover where your water comes from. Learn how to understand your bill. Find out if financial assistance is available for you. Access to water is a human right, and Portland tap water is always on for you.

Commissioner Amanda Fritz
Amanda Fritz is the Commissioner in Charge of the Portland Water Bureau. Commissioner Fritz can be reached at amanda@portlandoregon.gov.

Fix a Leak Week 2019: Is Your Toilet Flapper Failing You?

A leaky toilet flapper can mean hundreds of gallons of water lost each day. Make sure yours isn’t slacking on the job with these simple steps.

A leaky toilet flapper can mean hundreds of gallons of water lost each day. Make sure yours isn’t slacking on the job!

What is a toilet flapper anyway?  The flapper is really the magic behind the flush. This rubber or plastic round cover at the base of your toilet tank allows water to “flush” from the tank into the bowl and down the drain.

What can go wrong with a flapper? Flappers are often the source of potentially costly leaks when they no longer fully seal; flappers typically last about 5 years. There are four ways to check if your flapper is doing its job.

Debris around the seal. If there’s anything (even tiny debris) keeping the flapper from fully sealing, you can get a leak. Water will drain into your toilet bowl from the tank and eventually down the drain!

Chain too loose. The flapper is connected to a chain. As you press down on the flush handle, this chain lifts the flapper to flush the toilet. If the chain is too long, it can get caught under the flapper after you flush, preventing the flapper from fully closing. A loose chain can be tricky because it likely won’t prevent the flapper from closing every time, which could make for an intermittent but substantial leak.

Chain too tight. Just like a loose chain, a chain that’s too tight won’t allow the flapper to close, causing water to leak. A proper chain length will have a slight bend in it and just barely rest on top of the flapper.

Worn out. If your flapper is slick or rough or the material comes off on your hand it’s time to replace the flapper.

Fix a Flapper in Five Easy Steps

You can repair or replace a flapper with these five easy steps. It’s fine to put your hands in the toilet tank water because water in the tank has never had contact with the dirty water in the bowl. Though washing your hands afterwards is always a good idea.

Replacement flappers can easily be purchased at hardware stores and plumbing specialty shops. Take your old flapper with you to make sure you get one that fits. Purchasing an incorrect replacement flapper can result in a leak.

  1. Turn the water inlet shut-off valve clockwise to turn the water off.
  2. Flush the toilet to drain the tank.
  3. Attach the new flapper to notches on either side of the overflow tube base. Hook the chain in a position where it rests without pulling the flapper up or hanging over the edge.
  4. With the new flapper in place, turn the water to the toilet back on.
  5. After installing the new flapper valve, flush to test.
  6. After you flush, make sure that the water level in the tank is at the level indicated on the overflow tube or side of the tank. If no markings are found, adjust tank water level to ½ inch below the overflow tube.

Replace your toilet for a rebate!

If repair isn’t the answer, it might be time for a new toilet. You may be able to get a $50* rebate from the Portland Water Bureau to replace your old toilet with a water efficient model.

Lean more at https://www.portlandoregon.gov/water/rebate 

*Single-family residential customers enrolled in the bill discount program are eligible for a $100 per toilet rebate.

Why You Shouldn’t Ignore the Little Water Drips

That dripping faucet or pipe may be wasting more water than you’d ever imagine.

The Portland Water Bureau Water Efficiency Team

If you’ve got a leak you’ve been meaning to fix, you’re not alone. The average American household wastes more than 10,000 gallons each year from easy-to-fix water leaks—that’s the amount of water needed to wash 270 loads of laundry!

It can be hard to visualize how much water you’re losing but consider that a faucet that drips every  second is losing about 192 gallons of water per month.

Fixing the Leak

Many faucet leaks you can fix yourself and don’t take a lot of money to repair. If your leak is in a toilet, check out these step by step instructions or how to videos from our partners in the Regional Water Providers Consortium. If you’re looking for a little more hands on instruction, consider a Plumbing 101 class offered by our friends at the ReBuilding Center.

Getting Money Back on Your Bill

Sometimes leaks are big enough to cause a higher than normal bill. If that’s the case, after you’ve fixed the leak, make sure to contact us and ask about a leak adjustment. We may be able to adjust your bill back to what would be more typical for you.

Nerding out About Your Water Use

Want to know more about your overall water use?  Let us send you a free Home Water Audit Kit. The kit includes a bag to measure shower and faucet flow rate, toilet leak detection tablets, a drip gauge to measure leak rate and an easy to follow guide. Plan for about an hour of water-related “fun”.

Request a Home Water Audit Kit and ask us about your overall water use and what’s normal by contacting the Water Efficiency team at (503) 823-4527 or conserve@portlandoregon.gov.

Join Our Team: Water Treatment Operator II

Portland Water Bureau logoIf 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   Employment Type   Salary   Closing Date/Time Join Our Team 
Water Treatment Operator II Full Time $29.26–$37.81 Hourly Mon.4/8/2019 11:59 PM Pacific Apply here!

Learn More About the Water Bureau

Questions?

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