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Portland Water Bureau

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


MAILING ADDRESS: 1120 SW Fifth Ave, Suite 600, Portland, OR 97204

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Engineering the Future: The Adventures of a Water Bureau Intern

Water Bureau intern prepares to inspect a conduitHao Vo isn’t one to back down from an adventure.

From rock climbing to snowboarding, Hao describes himself as an “adventure buff” who prefers early mornings surrounded by nature over late nights on the town. Thanks to his love of exploration, in May 2017, Hao was excited to begin his adventure at the Water Bureau.

What he didn’t know is how far (or how deep) his seven-month journey would take him.

Exploring Oregon’s Wilderness

Hao Vo (pronounced “how voh”) interned at the Water Bureau from May to December 2017. A senior engineering student at Portland State University, Hao came to the Water Bureau through the Civil Engineering Cooperative program (CECOP). CECOP is a cooperative educational program that gives students the opportunity to team up with local agencies to gain hands-on experience for what they learn in the classroom.

Part of Hao’s real-world experience in the Water Bureau’s engineering group included inspecting 181 water culverts in the Bull Run Watershed.

The Bull Run Watershed is home to over 2,000 culverts. These culverts help water travel quickly and safely from higher elevations in the watershed to the lower-elevation reservoirs. Culverts also work to protect service roads from washing away by sending water runoff beneath the roads surfaces that crisscross through the thick understory of the federally protected forestland.

Each year, Water Bureau engineers inspect the watershed culverts for signs of damage and to ensure culverts have enough capacity to adequately manage water runoff during the watershed’s rainy winters.

Culvert inspections are performed in accordance to the Water Bureau's approach to asset management. Asset management combines engineering, economics, and business practices to identify the most cost-effective and efficient way to maintain, repair, and replace the bureau’s assets – from everything like culverts to maintenance trucks.

Water Bureau intern performing data input workInterning: A Day in the Life

Hao began his intern days at 7 a.m. in the Water Bureau offices in downtown Portland. After checking email and finishing data input work from the previous day, he would look at the list of that day’s assignments. Going to the watershed? Hao checks out a city vehicle, fires up his GPS, and heads out to the field.

Hao’s culvert inspection toolkit included a yard stick, tape measure, inclinometer, and an iPad to input field data into the Water Bureau’s tracking systems. Also in his bag: a machete.

His days would range from eight to nine hours in the watershed, inspecting about 13 to 15 culverts each day. Often, culverts are located far from each other and off well-maintained service roads. This meant that one day he found himself hiking through a patch of prickly salmonberry, using his machete to carefully clear a path for his adventure.

In addition to culvert inspections, Hao also assisted with inspecting conduits – the large pipelines that carry water from the watershed into the city.

What would Hao say to someone thinking about interning at the Water Bureau? “Do it,” he says with a smile. “I got the chance to see a lot of the watershed that is closed off to the public. Plus, I got to get hands-on experience at one of Oregon’s largest utilities.”

Because of his time at the Water Bureau, Hao got to explore interests that he didn’t even know he had, like the time he spoke with Engineering Supervisor Tim Collins about landslide detection failure angle calculations. The conversation led him to uncover his interest in geotech. “Always keep an open mind,” Hao suggests, “There’s so much to learn.”

A culvert in the Bull Run WatershedA Conduit to Success

Hao finished his internship last December, and he has big plans for the future. Water engineering. Marine engineering. A job with the Navy.

The future looks bright for Hao.

Interested in Being a Water Bureau Intern?

For more information about the Civil Engineering Cooperative Program, visit the Multiple Engineering Co-Op Program website.

Want to learn more about how the Water Bureau cares for its nearly $7 billion worth of water-system assets?  Visit the Water Bureau Asset Management program page.

Benson Bubblers Will Be Shut Off on Monday, Dec. 18 for Cold Weather

Benson Bubbler water fountainUPDATE 1/17/2018: Long range weather forecasts show mild weather with no extreme temps.

Because freezing temperatures are no longer a concern, Water Bureau crews will begin turning back on the City's Benson Bubbler drinking fountains.

On Monday, Dec. 18, the Portland Water Bureau will begin turning off the city's Benson Bubbler drinking fountains because of predicted cold temperatures. Cold temperatures can cause safety hazards on sidewalks for pedestrians.

A few bubblers will be will be kept on—including one at Fifth Avenue and West Burnside Street, one on the waterfront near the west end of the Steel Bridge and one under the Burnside Bridge—to provide water to those who rely on them as their primary water source.

It takes about one day day to turn off all of the city’s iconic drinking fountains, but can take more time depending on weather and other factors. Benson Bubblers are turned off by hand.

Once temperatures warm up, all of the bubblers will be turned back on.

Report Cold Weather Water Emergencies

Main breaks, service leaks and frozen water meters can also occur as a result of cold weather. If you observe running water in the street, believe you are not receiving water from your meter, or experience an urgent water problem, please contact the Portland Water Bureau's 24/7 Emergency Hotline at 503‐823‐4874.

More Information

For more information on the Benson Bubblers, visit

Jan. 16, 2018: Cryptosporidium Monitoring Update

Cryptosporidium monitoring updateThe 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 a 50-liter sample collected on Wednesday, Jan. 10. Prior to this detection, Cryptosporidium was last detected from the Bull Run Watershed intake on Dec. 18, 2017, when two oocysts were detected in a 50-liter sample.

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 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.

Additional 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.

We're Hiring: Customer Accounts Specialists

Water Bureau Hiring Customer Service SpecialistsIf 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   Emp. Type   Salary   Closing Date/Time Join Our Team 
Customer Account Specialist I  Full Time $17.95 - $25.88 Hourly Mon. 1/29/2018 11:59 PM Pacific  Apply here!
Customer Account Specialist II  Full Time  $21.40 - $28.36 Hourly Mon. 1/22/18 11:59 PM Pacific Time  Apply here!

Learn More About the Water Bureau


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

Water Bureau Offices Closed for the Martin Luther King Jr. Holiday on Monday, Jan. 15

Water Bureau Offices Closed Jan. 15In observance of the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday, Portland Water Bureau offices will be closed this Monday, Jan. 15. Offices will reopen on Tuesday, Jan. 16 at 8 a.m.

This closure includes both the Customer Service Call Center and the Customer Service Walk-In Service Center located on the sixth floor at 111 SW Columbia St., Suite 660, Portland, Oregon.

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).

Have a safe and happy holiday!

Water Emergency Hotline

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