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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


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Prepare Summer Soils with a Mulch Blanket

Spring is in the air!  With summer just around the corner, it’s time to get your garden ready to survive (and thrive!) through the hot temperatures. Our Water Efficiency team are pros at helping you reduce outdoor water use while growing the garden of your dreams.

What is an easy and cost-effective way to prepare your garden for summer? Add mulch!

What is mulch?

Mulch is a protective layer of material that is spread over the soil’s surface. It can be organic, made from bark, wood chips, compost, and even aged manure. It can also be inorganic gravel or river rock.

Keep soil hydrated and stops weeds

Mulch significantly reduces the amount of evaporation taking place on the surface of the soil. With less evaporation, the soil can retain moisture longer. This means that plants will stay hydrated and you don’t have to water as often.

Mulch also prevents the surface of the soil from becoming compacted from water impact. Preventing soil compaction keeps your soil fluffy and able to absorb water to greater depths.

The benefits don’t stop there—mulch also prevents the growth of weeds. By blocking sunlight from reaching the soil, young weeds cannot receive enough light to produce the sugars they need to grow. Before using a chemical weed killer, try mulch.

Mulch does all of this while also encouraging strong plant root systems, keeping soil cool, improving soil structure and, in the case of compost mulch, adding nutrients. Not to mention, a layer of mulch on your garden just looks nice!

How much mulch should I use?

Spring is the perfect time to mulch your garden for maximum water conservation. Apply a layer of mulch onto the soil surface around your plants. A one- to two-inch layer is most effective with compost, leaves or sawdust. Two to four inches works best for bark or wood chips.

Mulch giveaway!

If mulch sounds like the solution to your gardening woes, you’re in luck!

Our friends at the Portland Bureau of Transportation (PBOT) are giving away FREE composted mulch through May 24, 7am – 5pm, at their Sunderland Maintenance Yard,9325 NE Sunderland Ave..

For more details, see PBOT’s Facebook event.

Learn more about saving water outdoors:

Outdoor water efficiency

Landscape maintenance fact sheet

Water-efficient Plants for the Willamette Valley

Alliance for Water Efficiency's "Mulches for the Landscape"

Water Bureau Offices Closed for Memorial Day on Monday, May 27

Portland Water Bureau logoIn observance of the Memorial Day holiday, Portland Water Bureau offices will be closed on Monday, May 27.

Offices will reopen on Tuesday, May 28, 2019 at 8 a.m. The Customer Service Call Center will reopen at 8 a.m. The Customer Service Walk In Center will reopen at 7:30 a.m.

How to Pay Your Utility Bill

During the holiday, Water Bureau customers can pay their bill in the following ways:

  • Online: Click here
  • Phone: Pay by phone by dialing 503-823-7770 and pressing 1
  • Drop off: Leave a payment in the Water Bureau's drop box located at 111 SW Columbia St. (at the corner of SW 1st Ave. and SW Columbia St).

Water Emergency Hotline

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

May 16, 2019: Cryptosporidium Monitoring Update

The Portland Water Bureau received results from ongoing monitoring from the Bull Run Watershed intake for Cryptosporidium, a potentially disease-causing microorganism. One Cryptosporidium oocyst was detected in the 50-liters sampled on Sunday, May 12. Prior to this detection, Cryptosporidium was last detected from the Bull Run Watershed intake on April 29, when one oocyst was detected from the 50-liters sampled.

The bureau continues to use the Bull Run as its primary source of drinking water. The Portland Water Bureau does not currently treat for Cryptosporidium, but is required to do so under the drinking water regulations. Portland is working to install filtration by September 2027 under a compliance schedule with Oregon Health Authority. In the meantime, Portland Water Bureau is implementing interim measures such as watershed protection and additional monitoring to protect public health. Consultation with public health officials has concluded that at this time, customers do not need to take any additional precautions.

About Cryptosporidium

Exposure to Cryptosporidium can cause cryptosporidiosis, a serious illness. Symptoms can include diarrhea, vomiting, fever and stomach pain. People with healthy immune systems recover without medical treatment. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), people with severely weakened immune systems are at risk for more serious disease. Symptoms may be more severe and could lead to serious or life-threatening illness. Examples of people with weakened immune systems include those with AIDS; those with inherited diseases that affect the immune system; and cancer and transplant patients who are taking certain immunosuppressive drugs.

The Environmental Protection Agency has estimated that a small percentage of the population could experience gastro-intestinal illness from Cryptosporidium and advises that customers who are immunocompromised and receive their drinking water from the Bull Run Watershed consult with their healthcare professional about the safety of drinking the tap water. The Portland Water Bureau and Burlington, City of Gresham, City of Sandy, City of Tualatin, Green Valley, GNR, Hideaway Hills, Lake Grove, Lorna Portland Water, Lusted, Palatine Hill, Pleasant Home, Raleigh, Rockwood, Skyview Acres, Tualatin Valley, Two Rivers, Valley View and West Slope Water Districts receive all or part of their drinking water supply from the Bull Run. To learn if your drinking water comes from Bull Run, please contact your local drinking water provider.

More Information

The public and the media are encouraged to view all sampling results posted to the

City’s website at The bureau will notify the media and public immediately should further test results indicate a risk to public health and precautions are necessary.

Customers with questions regarding water quality can call the Water Line at 503-823-7525.

TRAFFIC ADVISORY 5/16/2019: Washington Park, SW Sacajawea Blvd. SW Sherwood Blvd, and SW Lewis Clark Way

The week of May 19–24, Southwest Sacajawea Boulevard between Southwest Park Place and Southwest Rose Garden Way, and Southwest Sherwood Boulevard between Southwest Sacajawea Boulevard and Southwest Kingston Drive will be closed to ALL TRAFFIC. Traffic flow along Southwest Lewis Clark Way will be reversed to allow traffic to exit Washington Park via Southwest Park Place via Southwest Washington Way. There will be no entrance to vehicles via Southwest Park Place.

The Washington Park Reservoir Improvement Project will begin receiving deliveries of segments of a tower crane. Delivery will begin arriving at approximately 7 a.m. Monday, May 20 by tractor trailer via Southwest Tichner Drive to Southwest Kingston Avenue to Southwest Sherwood Boulevard to Southwest Sacajawea Boulevard. Trucks will exit the park via Southwest Lewis Clark Way. It will take more than a dozen deliveries to get all the segments delivered. During this week, the crane will be erected on site.

Local residents and visitors to the park should expect delays, watch for signs, plan extra time for trips, and consider alternate routes and modes of transportation to get to destinations.

Impacts include:

Park Entrances and Exits

  • Southwest Park Place will be open for exit from via Southwest Lewis Clark Way.
  • Southwest Sacajawea Boulevard will be closed, closing park entrance via Southwest Park Place.

Intermittent Delays

  • Southwest Lewis Clark Way will experience intermittent delays between Southwest Park Place and Southwest Sacajawea Boulevard.

Multi-Use Shared Path

  • A designated path separates pedestrians and cyclists from vehicles on Southwest Lewis Clark Way.
  • Pedestrians and cyclists can use the path to travel both in and out of the park on Southwest Lewis Clark Way.
  • Cyclists are required to walk and not ride bicycles on the paths.


  • Madison Trail: The trail will be closed.

About the Washington Park Reservoir Improvement Project

The Portland Water Bureau’s Washington Park Reservoir Improvement Project will seismically strengthen key water infrastructure on Portland’s west side and help ensure a healthy, resilient, and secure water system. When complete and online, the new reservoir will supply water to Portland’s west side and serve more than 360,000 people, including all downtown businesses and residents, industrial customers, 20 schools, three hospital complexes, more than 60 parks, and some of Portland’s world class attractions. It will also provide fire suppression.

For more information, visit

You Can Now Use American Express to Pay Your Sewer, Stormwater, and Water Bill

You asked and we answered.

As of April 23, you can now use an American Express credit card to pay your sewer, stormwater, and water bill online, whether you are using the one-time payment option or through the Customer Self-Service system.

“Our Customer Service team helps over 1,000 customers pay their bills each day and answer questions about their sewer, stormwater, and water bill ,” says Customer Service Director Kathy Koch. “When our customers give us feedback, we listen. And now customers have one more option when paying their utility bill.”

Sign Up for Autopay

Save time and skip the reminders. Over 48,000 customers pay their utility bill with AutoPay. That's because AutoPay saves time (hello, not having to write checks or log online!) and takes less than five minutes to set up. Get started at

Having a hard time paying your utility bill?

Sometimes the unexpected happens.

You or someone you know may be eligible to participate in the Portland Water Bureau Financial Assistance program.

People who receive a bill from the Portland Water Bureau, and meet income guidelines, can apply for our program which is designed to help ease the cost of paying your regular sewer, stormwater, and water bills. Learn more at