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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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Summer Water Saving Tools Available

By Lindsay Wochnick Add a Comment

Free outdoor devices

It’s been a long, dry summer so far and Portland lawns are looking more like golden fields than lush green carpets.

To keep your plants alive and use water wisely, the Portland Water Bureau has free hose nozzles, watering gauges, and water-wise plant guides.

  • Hose Nozzle: Avoid running a hose unchecked when watering by hand.
  • Watering Gages: Measure how much water is being put down on the grass when using a sprinkler. Sign up for the weekly watering number that tells you how much to water based on the weather.
  • Water-Efficiency Plant Guide: While it is not a good time to plant new landscapes, this full-color guide is a great tool for planning. Make smart plant choices for your landscape here in the Willamette Valley.

Get your Hands on Free Water-Saving Tools

  • Visit the Water Bureau Customer Service Center at 1120 SW 5th Avenue, Portland, Oregon.
  • E-mail
  • Call 503-823-7439

Flushing: Using Water Wisely to Maintain Portland’s Water Quality

By Lindsay Wochnick Add a Comment


Customers may encounter a running hydrant or valve with a flushing sign or a Portland Water Bureau barrier and naturally think it is just a waste of water.

In fact, crews are flushing the system, an important tool to maintain water quality, especially in the summer when warmer water can lead to water quality issues.

This summer much of the Northwest is experiencing drier than normal conditions with some areas facing water shortages. However, Portland is not facing water shortages, and is fortunate in that we have two sources of water to meet Portland’s needs. We are constantly monitoring our water resources and balancing maintenance activities with available supply.

Water crews routinely monitor flushes to use the right amount of water needed to maintain water quality, and deliver clean, cold, constant water to our customers.

The Portland Water Bureau uses two techniques to clean and maintain the drinking water system: spot flushing and unidirectional flushing.

  • Spot flushing is used to flush lower quality water from the system and bring in fresh higher quality water. This includes drinking water that is discolored due to a disturbance in the system such as construction or other hydrant activity. Spot flushing is also used to flush out dead-ends or low-use areas in the system. Portland Water Bureau crews open fire hydrants to flush this water out of the system, monitoring the flush to know when water quality has improved and ensuring water is used wisely.
  • Unidirectional flushing is not used in response to a specific water quality issue but instead is used as routine maintenance to prevent problems from arising. The goal of unidirectional flushing is to scour and clean the insides of the water delivery pipes.  Cleaning the pipes removes sediment that builds up in the pipes. This reduces the potential for water quality problems. Unidirectional flushing works by forcing water in the pipes to flow at much higher speeds than normal. Flushing crews first open and close valves to isolate sections of pipe, and then the water and any sediments in the pipes are flushed out through an open fire hydrant.

For more information, visit the following Portland Water Bureau webpages:

A BIG Success Story

By Lindsay Wochnick Add a Comment

BIG program logoThe Portland Water Bureau’s Business, Industry, and Government (BIG) Water Efficiency Program offers information, resources, and assistance to industrial, commercial, and institutional customers of the Water Bureau.

BIG staff work alongside customers to create a water-use history report, identify potential savings, and provide an on-site evaluation of water using devices based on specific needs. Here’s one success story from the BIG Program. 

IRC Aluminum & Stainless
Located in North Portland, IRC Aluminum & Stainless is a non‐ferrous metal distributor that provides water‐jet cutting services to the northwest. Water‐jet cutting is a unique technology that can cut a variety of materials with no mechanical stress or heat effect. High pressure pumps used to create the water jets rely on large quantities of continuous “single pass” cooling water that discharges to the sewer after one use.

Cooling is typically accomplished using chillers and/or cooling towers but IRC was in need of a customized system to meet the requirements of their unique operation.

IRC's water jet at work.In September 2012, the Water Bureau's Water Conservation Program Coordinator met with IRC personnel to help improve the company’s water efficiency and reduce environmental impacts.

Working together, they developed an innovative design that combined the reuse of pump cooling water together with “free cooling” to the atmosphere using outdoor storage tanks.

The system now reuses cooling water in various cutting operation areas, providing more savings than a chiller system alone. The resulting design reduced cooling water demand by approximately 1.6 million gallons per year or 41 percent of the total use.

IRC’s high capital cost to install the system was reduced by an incentive offered by the Water Bureau.

To read more BIG Water Efficiency Program success stories, visit our Commercial Water Efficiency website.

Washington Park Reservoir Project: Type III Historic Review Application Update

By Lindsay Wochnick Add a Comment

On August 10, 2015, a public hearing was held before the Historic Landmarks Commission to review the Portland Water Bureau’s Type III Historic Review application for the Washington Park Reservoir Improvements Project.

During testimony, a member of the public requested that the record be left open for submission of new evidence.

The Type III application describes the proposed project’s historic preservation and rehabilitation actions and construction of a covered reservoir, reflecting pools, lowland habitat area/bioswale, and walkways. These features will offer the public enhanced access to the new surface water features and classically-designed gatehouses, dams, and related structures.

After a discussion, the Commission decided the following: 

August 10 – 24, 2015 The record will remain open for submission of new evidence from August 10, 2015 to 4:30 p.m., August 24, 2015.
August 24 – 31, 2015 Response to new evidence will be accepted from August 24, 2015 to 4:30 p.m., August 31, 2015.
August 31 – September 8, 2015 The Water Bureau can submit a rebuttal to the new evidence and response from August 31, 2015 to 4:30 p.m., September 8, 2015. The end date was extended one-day from September 7 due to the Labor Day holiday.
September 14, 2015 The Commission will reconvene to take action on the item. No public testimony will be taken.

Submit, Review New Evidence
New evidence on the Type III Historic Resource Review application can be e-mailed to, faxed to 503-823-5630, or mailed to:

Hillary Adam
Land Use Services, Bureau of Development Services
RE: LU 15-169671 HR
1900 SW Fourth Avenue, Suite 4500
Portland, OR 97201

A courtesy copy of the application and subsequent updates submitted to BDS are posted on the Water Bureau’s project webpage at To view or obtain copies of the official document, you must get it from BDS. 

To review and submit response to new evidence, visit

Land Use Review chart updatesLand Use Review Application Background
The Washington Park Reservoir Project includes three Land Use Reviews (LUR) detailed in the chart to the right:

1. Type IV Demolition Review application

2. Type III Historic Review application    

3. Type III Conditional Use/ Environmental/Tree Reviews application

Before work permits are issued or construction begins, all applications must be approved.

The applications are a result of a robust public involvement process that included multiple public open houses and nine Community Sounding Board meetings that guided design for the required visible features of the Washington Park project.

For more information on the Type III and IV LUR processes, visit the BDS website.

Project Details
The Water Bureau’s Washington Park Reservoir Improvements Project proposes to build a new below-ground reservoir in the same general footprint as the existing upper Reservoir 3, with a reflecting pool on top.

The lower Reservoir 4 basin and the slope west of it are needed to provide landslide abatement; the slope will be restored to its pre-reservoir condition. Reservoir 4 will be disconnected from the public drinking water system and a lowland habitat area/bioswale and a reflecting pool are also proposed in the Reservoir 4 basin. Work will primarily be within the Historic District.

The project addresses major reservoir issues, including recurrent landslide damage, compliance with federal law, seismic vulnerability, and deterioration of the 120 year-old structures.

Additional Information & Contacts
For detailed project information, visit the project webpage or contact Water Bureau Public Information staff at 503-823-3028 or by e-mail. Visit the Bureau of Development Services’ website or call 503-823-7300 for more information on the land use review application process.

Lindsay Wochnick
Public Information

Join Portland Water at the Jade District Night Market Events

By Lindsay Wochnick Add a Comment

Mark your calendars and join the Portland Water Bureau at the second annual Jade District Night Market on August 15 and 22 from 5 to 10 p.m. at the Portland Community College SE Campus (2305 SE 82nd Ave).

Jade Night Market eventsWater Bureau employees will be on hand to address water-related questions and concerns, offer information on how the Water Bureau can help with bill assistance, discuss convenient ways to pay and manage your sewer-water bill, and advise on ways to use water efficiently and cost effectively.

The Jade District Night Market events are family friendly and include retail and food vendors and live entertainment. The goals of the market is to help create a sense of community on SE 82nd Avenue by bringing local business owners together and drawing the larger Portland community to the multi-ethnic neighborhood.

The Jade District is the area surrounding SE 82nd Avenue and SE Division Street. The district was designated by the Portland Development Commission (PDC) as a Neighborhood Prosperity Initiative (NPI) district in 2011. The NPI is a public/private partnership that aims to transform underserved commercial districts in east Portland into engines of economic growth without displacing the communities that reside there.

Lindsay Wochnick
Public Information