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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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Portland Water Bureau Repairs 14 Water Main Breaks Last Week

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Map of water main breaks

On average, the Water Bureau responds to 200 main breaks each year. Last week alone, Water Bureau crews responded to 14 water main breaks. That’s 7 percent of the main breaks that occur during the entire year.

At the Portland Water Bureau, we call this time of year “Main Break Season”. This is because water main breaks can occur with greater frequency during cold weather, which means that Water Bureau Maintenance and Construction crews are called out during all hours in severe weather to repair broken mains. Last week’s drop in temperature and subsequent snow falls were no different. Repair crews were kept busy from downtown Portland to deep Southeast repairing broken water mains.

City and State Agencies Work Together to Repair Water Main Breaks

On Wednesday, Dec. 14 at 9 p.m., Water Bureau Maintenance crews responded to last week’s largest water main break at Southeast 82nd Avenue and Southeast Ellis Street that closed Southeast 82nd Avenue. The ruptured pipe was an 8-inch cast iron water main installed in 1912.

Water Bureau crews worked around the clock in cold temperatures for almost 24 hours to replace 30 feet of pipe. Once the pipe was repaired and the excavation site filled with gravel, the road was ready to be paved. By 4 p.m. on Sunday, repaving was finished and crews with the Portland Bureau of Transportation (PBOT) removed traffic barricades and road conditions returned to normal.

This multi-day repair effort brought together multiple City and State agencies – the Portland Water Bureau, PBOT, Portland Bureau of Environmental Services (BES) and the Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) – that worked closely together to ensure repair work was completed efficiently and water service restored.

And bureau cooperation didn’t stop there! During the snow storm, the Water Bureau gave a helping hand to PBOT by lending them dump trucks to haul sand to locations throughout the city to aid in their response to unsafe roads.

Recognizing the Water Bureau’s Invisible Heroes

Special recognition goes to the invisible heroes of the Water Bureau’s Maintenance and Construction crew that worked in extreme cold during last week’s winter weather to repair and restore water service to Portland-area homes and businesses.

Main Breaks: How to Report Them and What to Expect

Please be our eyes and ears. If you suspect that a main is broken in your neighborhood, please call the Water Bureau’s 24-hour emergency line at 503-823-4874.

Learn more about water main breaks, and what to expect if a main breaks in your area, by visiting the Water Bureau’s Main Break Season info page.


Portland Water Bureau Offices Closed December 26 in Observance of the Christmas Holiday

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In observance of the Christmas holiday, Portland Water Bureau offices will be closed on Monday, December 26, 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 Monday, December 27 at 8 a.m.

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

- 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

Customers are reminded to contact 503-823-7525 with questions regarding water quality or pressure. To report a water system emergency, contact the 24/7 Emergency Hotline at 503-823-4874.

Cold-Weather Crafts for Cooped-Up Kids

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A little taste of snow this year has little Portlanders hoping for more! Even if it doesn’t snow again, you and your kids can still make your own snowy crafts to while away the chilly Oregon days before school starts again.

This year’s snowpack in the Bull Run watershed is one way that Portland Water provides water year round. Snowpack happens as snow falls and is weighted down over time. As the weather warms, the snow melts and contributes cold water to Portland’s water supply. While the Bull Run watershed is primarily a rain-fed system, snowpack is always welcome.

Erupting Fake Snow


- 1 cup of baking soda
- Can of shaving cream/foam
- Glitter
- Vinegar

How To:

  1. Pour your baking soda into a large mixing bowl.
  2. Add about 1/2 of the can of shaving cream. You can put in as much as you like until you have a good, powdery consistency.
  3. Add as much glitter as you like. Now give your mixture a good stir.
  4. At this point you should have a mixture that can be balled up like a snowball. Place your snow into a large container and pour your vinegar over the top to watch it foam up.

DIY Snow Globes


- Leftover jars from baby food, sauces or jams, or purchased jars from craft stores
- A little toy to put inside
- Glycerin (available at drug stores)
- Glitter
- Heavy Duty Glue (Gorilla glue, E6000, Epoxy, etc.)

How To:

  1. Put a little glue on the bottom of your toy. Place it on the lid of your jar and press it down a little to get it firmly in place. Let the glue dry for 10 minutes.
  2. Fill your jar with Bull Run water from your tap. Put one small squirt of glycerin in it (this is going to make your “snow” float better.) Add a pinch of glitter. Try to find a balance with the glitter: too much and your snow globe may appear hazy, too little and you won’t have enough snow.
  3. Hot glue the lid in place and shake it up!

Crystal Sun Catchers
Recommended for children 8+


- Epsom Salt
- Clear Recycled Plastic Lids -- use the clearest you can find, like the iced coffee or salsa lids found at restaurants
- Water
- Empty Jar
- Bowl or glass measuring cup
- Microwave (optional)
- Tray
- String
- Exacto knife/Pin

How To:

  1. Add 1 cup of Epsom salt to an empty glass jar.
  2. Add 1 cup of Bull Run water to a microwave safe bowl. Heat the water in the microwave for 45 seconds. Alternatively use very hot tap water and skip the microwave.
  3. Pour the water into the jar with the salt. Do this quickly so that the water is warm. Stir the salt and water for 1-2 minutes to dissolve the salt.
  4. Place several plastic lids on a flat-bottomed tray in a sunny location where they can remain undisturbed. The crystals are very fragile, so make as many as you can in case of accidents.
  5. Let the liquid in your jar cool a bit and then pour off some of the excess liquid from your jar into the recycled plastic lids. Use just enough to cover the bottom of the lid. Be careful not to overfill the lids.
  6. Place your lids in sunny location or under a warm lamp. Depending on how much liquid has been added it will take a few hours or a day to start crystallizing. At first the lid will look like it’s just full of water, but be patient!
  7. When the liquid has completely evaporated your crystal sun catcher is ready! You will be able to see lovely crystal structures from both side of the lid.
  8. VERY carefully poke a small hole in the edge of the lid and thread a piece of string through the hole. Tie in a knot and hang your sun catcher up!

Note: The sun catcher in the photo was freshly made. The salt that forms these crystals will eventually dry up and whiten, meaning that your crystals are only temporary.

Northwest Portland Greenleaf Pump Station Upgrade Coming Summer 2017

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The Portland Water Bureau is committed to upgrading the city’s aging water system to better serve its customers. One way we’re doing that is by replacing the Greenleaf pump station in Northwest Portland. Built in 1951, the Greenleaf pump station provides water to the Penridge Tank which feeds the local water distribution system. This configuration can no longer meet the fire suppression needs of the area it serves.

Beginning in summer 2017, the existing pump station will be replaced with three energy efficient pumps for drinking water needs and two large pumps to supply adequate fire flows. The Penridge Tank will be disconnected from the water system. The new pumps -- housed in a 1,300 square foot building -- will then continually feed high-quality water directly into the distribution system. The construction will take place on Water Bureau property and will take approximately 18 months. The Willis Building will remain as is.

This is just one project that will better serve our customers and conserve energy resources!

TRAFFIC ADVISORY 12/16/16: Water Main Repair Closes SW 2nd Between SW Jefferson Street and SW Madison Street

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UPDATE -- Dec. 16, 2016 at 4:07 p.m.

The water main break has been repaired. Our Maintenance and Construction crew is currently back-filling and flushing the line. Road conditions will be restored shortly.


Portland Water Bureau crews are responding to a water main break on SW 2nd Avenue between SW Jefferson Street and SW Madison Street. No intersections are affected.

A Portland Water Bureau Maintenance & Construction crew is on site and have closed down SW 2nd Avenue between SW Jefferson Street and SW Madison Street.

The main is an 16-inch cast iron pipe from 1906.

At this time, water service for the area has not been interrupted and no customers are out of water.

The traveling public is reminded to stay alert and use caution as traffic may suddenly slow or stop. To avoid traffic delays, motorists are encouraged to use alternate routes around the work site.

The Portland Water Bureau’s Maintenance & Construction crews are ready to respond to emergencies, including water main breaks, 24-hours a day, seven days a week. On average, crews respond to 200 main breaks a year.

This advisory will be updated throughout the day.