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Portland Water Bureau

From forest to faucet, we deliver the best drinking water in the world.


1120 SW Fifth Ave, Suite 600, Portland, OR 97204

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Water Bureau Finds Cryptosporidium in Bull Run Water: City to increase monitoring efforts of drinking water source

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Today, the Portland Water Bureau received results that Cryptosporidium was detected in a routine water sample collected Monday, January 2, from the Bull Run watershed, which provides drinking water to Portland and neighboring communities. The lab results show that two individual Cryptosporidium oocysts were present in a 50-liter (~13 gallons) sample of water.

At this time, we do not believe there is any public health risk as a result of this detection. The public is not being asked to take any precautions.

The Portland Water Bureau currently does not treat for the parasite because of a variance issued by the State of Oregon Health Authority (OHA) in 2012. Instead, the Portland Water Bureau is required to conduct routine monitoring for Cryptosporidium and notify the public of any detections.

* The Portland Water Bureau tests at least 100 liters per week from the source water intake for Cryptosporidium, a potentially pathogenic microorganism.
* This detection at the intake is the first since the Portland Water Bureau began operation under the variance in April 2012 and the first since December 30, 2011, when a single oocyst was also detected. These two instances are the only detections that have occurred since August 2002.
* As required by the conditions of the treatment variance, the Portland Water Bureau will begin increased monitoring next week at the source water intake for at least one year to demonstrate whether the Cryptosporidium concentration is less than 0.075 oocysts per 1,000 liters.

"Laboratory results indicate a detection of an extremely small amount of Cryptosporidium," said Water Bureau Administrator Mike Stuhr. "The Water Bureau will increase monitoring at the drinking water source, as we agreed to do as a condition of the variance. The variance continues to be valid despite this single detection."

The City has consulted with the Multnomah County Health Department and OHA. Public health officials have determined that no special precautions for Portland's drinking water are currently necessary, aside from increased monitoring and testing efforts currently underway. As is always recommended, people with severely weakened immune systems should seek specific advice about drinking water from their health care provider.

"Since animals can carry certain types of Cryptosporidium, if we test enough water we will eventually find this parasite, even from a highly-protected source like the Bull Run" said Multnomah County Health Officer Dr. Paul Lewis. "Fortunately we have never had an outbreak of Cryptosporidium in the 120 years we have been drinking water from the Bull Run." The county's ongoing surveillance has shown no unexplained increase in Cryptosporidium cases.

The Water Bureau is performing a thorough investigation that may include additional sampling and will attempt to identify any possible sources of the Cryptosporidium detection. The Water Bureau will notify the public of any additional detections.

Additional information regarding Water Bureau's treatment variance is available at Customers with questions regarding water quality can call the Water Line at (503) 823-7525.

Celebrating Portland Water Bureau’s Artists

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To kick off the new year, the Portland Water Bureau is celebrating some of our very own artists! Every year, the City of Portland and Multnomah County hosts an exhibit titled all the art that fits in the Portland Building lobby. This year, seven talented Water Bureau artists were featured.

We checked in with some of those artists to find out more about what inspired them to create their pieces.

“Saw the scene on a ride back to downtown from Interstate.
Captured the picture with my phone.
Tried to draw the picture.”
Leigh Kojiro, Electrical Engineer


“I really have fun creating my funky, whimsical pieces using wood, clay, paper and found objects—it’s great therapy and a nice break from computer graphics! I find inspiration everywhere-- nature, animals (especially cats, dogs and birds), old movies and interesting people throughout history. I’ve got some new ideas cooking for 2017!!”
Sarah Fine, Graphic Designer

“I think of myself as more of a snapshooter than a photographer, and periodically pick out shots to keep. My family moved from Denver to Los Angeles in 1925, and they followed the Pony Express/Butterfield Stage Route from Salt Lake City to near Ely, NV. I drove this route—which includes about 200 miles of unpaved road—and snapped my photo somewhere just south of the Great Salt Desert in western Utah.”
Tom Carter, Senior City Planner

“I found a picture of a snowy owl in an environmental magazine, and thought it would make a lovely marquetry project. I tried to keep it simple, and use the grain of the wood to emulate the feathers. I think it came out nicely.”
Bob Goldie, Senior Planner

You can see these pieces, and all the art that fits, in person in the lobby of the Portland Building at 1120 S.W. Fifth Ave. in Portland between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. until January 9.

Please join us in welcoming the new year by recognizing some of the creative minds at work at the bureau every day.

Water Main Flushing to Begin January 2017

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Starting in January 2017, the Water Bureau will be conducting uni-directional flushing (UDF) of water mains in parts of the following North and Northeast Portland neighborhoods:

  • Bridgeton
  • Concordia
  • Cully
  • East Columbia
  • Kenton
  • Piedmont
  • Portland Airport area
  • Portsmouth
  • Sumner
  • Sunderland
  • Woodlawn

Flushing will be conducted between 8 a.m. and 1:30 p.m., Monday through Friday.

Click here to view a map of the areas scheduled for flushing.

Improving and Maintaining High-Quality Drinking Water

Drinking water systems, especially unfiltered systems like Portland, need to routinely clean the network of pipes to improve water quality. Over time, very fine sediment and organic matter from the Bull Run settle out of the water and accumulate in the bottom of the pipes. While the sediments are generally harmless, they can make the disinfectant in the water less effective.

Click here to find out how the Portland Water Bureau uses flushing to clean and maintain the drinking water system.

Flushing in Your Neighborhood

Unidirectional flushing will have minimal impacts to customers. If you see hydrant flushing crews working in the area, please drive carefully and treat them like any other road construction crew.

During Flushing

Residents in the immediate vicinity of flushing may notice temporarily discolored water and lower than normal water pressure. The discoloration does not pose a health risk. However, avoid using tap water or running the washing machine or dishwasher until flushing is complete.

After Flushing

If you experience some discoloration in your water from nearby flushing, run the water at one tap for 5 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.

Need Assistance?

The Water Line is available 8:30 am – 4:30 pm Monday-Friday at 503-823-7525 or If you have a discolored water-related emergency after these hours, please call 503-823-4874 to speak with a Water Bureau Emergency Dispatcher. To learn more about home water quality, visit the Water Bureau’s Drinking Water Quality at Home page.

Portland Water Bureau Offices Closed January 2 in Observance of the New Year's Day Holiday

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In observance of the New Year's Day holiday, Portland Water Bureau offices will be closed on Monday, January 2, 2016.

This includes both the Customer Service Call Center and the Customer Service Walk-In Service Center located on the first floor at 1120 SW Fifth Avenue, Portland, Oregon. Offices will reopen on Tuesday, January 3, 2017 at 8 a.m. 

During the holiday, Water Bureau customers are invited to pay their bill in the following ways:

  • Online
  • Drop off: Leave a payment in the Water Bureau's night box located at 1120 SW 5th Avenue to the left of the building's front doors

To report a water system emergency, contact the 24/7 Emergency Hotline at 503-823-4874.

Resolve to be Water Efficient in the New Year

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With the temperature on the chilly side, thinking about water (the non-frozen variety) isn't high on the agenda for most people. But we always need drinking water — and clean drinking water at that.

In Portland we are blessed with an abundance of water that most of us take for granted. This is the season of thinking about what we will do in the new year to be and do better. How about reducing your water footprint? Here are a few suggestions:

  • Install high efficiency showerheads to reduce waste — save up to 1 gallon per minute.
  • Limit showers to five minutes.
  • Consider upgrading to a water and energy efficiency washing machine.
  • Run your dishwasher only when it's full.
  • Replace your older toilet with a WaterSense-labeled High-Efficiency toilet that uses 1.28 gallons per flush or less.
  • Give up bottled water — it takes 1.85 gallons of water just to manufacture the plastic for one 12-ounce bottle.

Let’s all work together for water efficiency in 2017. Make your New Year’s resolution today!