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Portland Water Bureau

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

GENERAL INFORMATION: 503-823-7404

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

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Lewis Elementary Students Learn About the Bull Run Watershed

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Lewis Elementary Second Graders Learn About Portland's Water System

On Tuesday, May 16, students in Ms. Brenan’s second grade class learned about Portland’s water system from our Maintenance and Construction Director Ty Kovatch.

The class had been studying watersheds and the importance of protecting them. The students learned about the Bull Run Watershed and how it supplies nearly one million people in our region with the best drinking water in the world.

The class was enthusiastic about what they learned, gaining great appreciation for how water makes it all the way from the forest to the faucets in their home, as well as to every fire hydrant in the city.

The class wrote about what they learned and also drew pictures for the Water Bureau.

Here are just a few of the thoughts they shared.

“I think there are better names for dams than Dam 1 and Dam 2.” — Shanti

“Thank you for sharing the pictures, especially the one with the main break and the boat going down the street.” — Lily

“I now know so much about water and cannot wait to share it with other people!” — Sylvie

“Now I will pay more attention to the Portland Water Bureau. I was really interested in how the Bull Run Watershed’s forest can filter the water we drink.” — Aurelio

“I hope you can come back when I’m in 3rd grade. It was so fun having you visit. I learned a lot about the water and where it comes from.” — Katie

“I am fascinated about how the Bull Run Watershed filters our water. I wonder why they named them Dam 1 and Dam 2?” — Lynn

“The water is so good that it tastes like the best liquid ever!!” — Drake

“We can’t live without water.” — Cate

“The Bull Run Watershed sounds amazing.  But there is one thing I am wondering about, how many gallons of water in one year?” — Anika

Lead in Drinking Water: What You Need to Know

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Lead is a naturally occurring metal found in the Earth’s crust. Historically, lead has been used in many consumer products, including gasoline, paint, and plumbing materials.

The Environmental Protection Agency and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have determined that there is no safe level of exposure to lead. Children and pregnant people are most at-risk to lead exposure since lead has the greatest impact on developing brains and bodies.

Where Lead Exposure Comes From

Lead paint and dust are the primary source of lead exposure for Portland-area residents, especially in older homes. Other sources of lead in Portland include pottery, traditional cosmetics and medicines, soil, and plumbing materials.

The use of lead in plumbing systems and components dates back to ancient Rome. Lead pipes are flexible and easy to install, and lead in brass simplifies the manufacturing of components and improves threaded seals. In Portland, lead is rarely found in our source waters and there are no known lead pipes in the water system. It is the use of lead components in household plumbing that can result in lead in water as a result of the corrosion (or wearing away) of household plumbing materials containing lead.

Our Water Pipes

We have never used lead pipes for the water mains or service lines, which delivers drinking water to your home plumbing.

In the 1980s through 2000s, we actively worked to identify and remove lead components in our system. By 1998 we removed all known lead pigtails (a short pipe connecting the water main to the service line), and by 2008 we replaced all large meters with lead components that served at-risk populations. So where is this lead coming from?

Faucets, Fixtures, and Solder

Lead solder was commonly used to join copper pipe before 1985. Homes built or plumbed between 1970 and 1985 are at a higher risk for having lead solder. Faucets and fixtures installed before 2014 could contain some leaded brass as well.

What Can You Do

There are some easy steps you can take if you’re concerned about lead in your home’s water.

Get your home water tested for free, and run your water for 30 seconds to two minutes after it has been sitting in the pipes for several hours, such as in the morning when you wake up or when you return home from school or work. Running your water has been shown to reduce lead at the tap by up to 90 percent.

There are several other easy and effective suggestions to help you reduce the potential for exposure to lead in water.

Learn more about ways you can reduce exposure to all sources of lead in your home by visiting www.leadline.org.

What We’re Doing

Public health is our highest priority. The Portland Water Bureau cares about the health of the families in our community and is committed to help you limit your exposure to lead in drinking water. That’s why we’re taking steps to reduce our customers’ exposure to lead by adjusting our treatment.

In March, City Council approved the start of a corrosion control treatment pilot to determine the most effective improvements to our corrosion treatment. This pilot is currently underway and is the first step to constructing an improved corrosion control treatment facility, scheduled to be operational in 2022.

Free Lead Test Kit

Our customers – and customers of the City of Gresham, Rockwood PUD, Tualatin, Tualatin Valley Water District, West Slope Water District, and more – can order a free test kit from the LeadLine online or by calling 503-988-4000.

Using a free test kit is the only way to know if your home plumbing is adding lead to your water.

The test kit includes instructions, sample bottles, a postage-paid return envelope, and an information card that needs to be filled out by the customer and returned with the water sample.

#GetLeadSmart

Want to learn more about how you can reduce possible exposure to lead from household plumbing?

Follow us on Facebook and Twitter to see our lead reduction tips through the week.

Join Our Team: Water Quality Engineer

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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 Opportunity at the Water Bureau

Position   Emp. Type   Salary   Closing Date/Time Join Our Team 
Water Quality Engineer (Chemical / Environmental Engineer)  Full Time  $42.96 - $52.21 Hourly Mon. 6/26/17 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

Questions 

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

Spruce Up Your Sprinkler System and Save

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SprinklerRain, sun, thunderstorms, and rainbows. It’s definitely spring in Oregon!

If you’re planning to water outdoors during the summer, now is a great time to spruce up your irrigation system. If you don’t currently have a system in place or if you’re looking to upgrade, check out our Irrigation Rebates and save on qualifying sprinkler heads and irrigation controllers.  

Whether your irrigation system is old or new, maintenance can help save you a lot of money and water! Experts estimate that as much as half of the water we use outdoors is wasted due to evaporation, wind, or runoff caused by inefficient irrigation methods and systems.

Follow these four simple steps to make sure you’re ready for summer—inspect, connect, direct, and select:

  • Inspect. Check your system for clogged, broken, or missing sprinkler heads or hoses. Not ready to do it yourself? Go with a pro—find an irrigation professional WaterSense-certified Portland metro area professional.
  • Connect. Examine places where the sprinkler heads connect to pipes/hoses. If water is pooling in your landscape or you have large soggy areas, you could have a leak in your system. A leak as small as the tip of a ballpoint pen (1/32 of an inch) can waste about 6,300 gallons of water per month.
  • Direct. Are you watering the driveway, house, or sidewalk instead of your yard? Redirect sprinklers to apply water only to the living things.
  • Select. An improperly scheduled irrigation controller can waste a lot of water and money. Update your system’s schedule with the seasons, or select a WaterSense-labeled controller to take the guesswork out of scheduling. And Portland Water Bureau customers who install an approved WaterSense-labeled controller are eligible for an irrigation rebate for $100­­–$500 (limits apply).  

Learn more about maintaining a water-smart yard by visiting our Water Efficiency page.

Penny Beckwith
Water Efficiency

Women in Trades: Meet Danielle Marcial, Water Operations Mechanic

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Water Bureau women at the Women In Trades Career FairThe Women in Trades Career Fair is an annual event produced by Oregon Tradeswomen, Inc. This interactive fair encourages middle and high school girls and women to explore the possibility of a future career in the trades. This year’s Women in Trades Career Fair was held on May 19 and 20.

For more than 13 years, women from the Portland Water Bureau have been a key part of this unique event with the goal of promoting and supporting the advancement and employment of women in the trades.

Thank you to the professional and talented women in the Water Bureau who have dedicated their career to the trades.

Get to Know Danielle Marcial, Water Bureau Tradeswoman

What is your role at the Water Bureau?

I am a utility worker II in the Maintenance and Construction group.

Construction worker digging in streetHow did you first get involved in the trades?

I graduated from Oregon Tradeswomen's seven-week pre-apprenticeship class. After that, I joined the Laborers' Union Local 296 and worked on such projects as the Sellwood Bridge and Oregon Zoo Elephant Lands before joining the Water Bureau in November 2016.

Describe your typical day for us. What does that look like?

The maintenance and construction field crews arrive at 6:45 every morning.

Each crew will typically consist of a mechanic, one to three utility workers, a backhoe operator, and a dump truck driver. After receiving our work orders for the day, we stock up on parts and tools, fuel our vehicles, and report to our job sites.

The first thing we do on-site is set up traffic control. After excavating, we could be doing anything from installing water mains and domestic or fire line services to replacing fire hydrants. At the end of each day, we report back to our maintenance offices where the mechanics will file paperwork while equipment operators and utility workers clean and prep their vehicles for the next morning.

What are the barriers that you see as the largest impediments to more women working in the trades? Has that changed over time?

Childcare is a challenge for women in the construction industry. The hours can be unpredictable and often start earlier and end later than those typical of daycare facilities. When workers are laid-off, they can be called back to work spontaneously and must be prepared to start work anytime, anywhere, and with little notice.

Another barrier keeping women from the trades is lack of exposure. It simply doesn't occur to most women that a career in the trades is an option for them. Traditional gender roles and reduced school funding are contributing factors.

There is actually a summer camp for female youths here in Portland called Girls Build. School-aged girls are taught how to use hand and power tools while working on projects for the community. They even learn how to change a tire! Apprenticeships and shop classes seem to be making a bit of a comeback. So, programs like these will be instrumental in turning women on to the trades.

Female construction worker uses a jackhammerHow do you see fellow tradeswomen supporting each other in the work you do?

I'm very fortunate to be living and working in Oregon for many reasons. I'm especially lucky to be a tradeswoman in Oregon. Oregon Tradeswomen provides a network of local "lady tradies" to reach out to for mentorship and advice.

On the day to day, I see tradeswomen support each other in one of two ways. We're either going to be eager to take people under our wing or be especially tough in order for them to discover their grit.

What or who is your greatest professional inspiration?

Connie Ashbrook, co-founder and executive director at Oregon Tradeswomen, Inc. She started off trailblazing as an elevator mechanic, organized OTI as a social network of local tradeswomen in the 90s and built it into the program that it is today. I can only imagine the grit she must have had in the field! Her dedication to advocacy is beyond admirable.

Either at the Water Bureau or beyond, which women have served as your professional role models or mentors?

There are so many that I could dedicate an entire interview to this one question!

Aida Aranda from the Laborers' Union was an early mentor and I know I can still rely on her for advice to this day. Annette Wood, who now works as a dispatcher for the Water Bureau, was incredibly supportive and helpful during my apprenticeship. Rebecca Jones manages to be an amazing and highly-respected woman in the trades while raising three young children at home. That never ceases to impress me.

What advice would you give to a young woman considering a career in your field?

Seek out other female tradesworkers. Apprenticeship is tough for everyone but you'll benefit from confiding in someone who understands your unique situation. Be determined and persistent. Never let anyone take a tool out of your hand. Most of all, remember that the only person you need to compete with is the one you were yesterday.

Do you have any interesting stories to share about your work out in the field?

I was working on a main break overnight in January. It was bitter cold out and a couple of nice fellas offered me a coffee.