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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

GENERAL INFORMATION: 503-823-7404

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Bull Run Treatment Planning for Pipes

Map of property and potential pipeline routesCity Council will decide whether to purchase the property at 35319 S.E. Carpenter Lane in Gresham, which is directly across the street from the new filtration facility. The land provides a potential route for pipes from the filtration plant.

Council will decide on Wednesday, Oct. 23 whether the Water Bureau will move forward with the purchase of the property at 35319 S.E. Carpenter Lane in Gresham. This is directly across the street from the new filtration facility. The bureau’s interest in this property is in the land, as a potential route for pipes from the filtration plant north to Dodge Park Boulevard.

When the Council provides direction on the pipe configuration, the project team will develop designs and determine specific needs. The property will be sold if not needed for filtration plant purposes when the project is complete.

Water Bureau staff are committed to being good neighbors and responsible stewards of ratepayer money. The treatment facility is needed to comply with federal regulations. It also provides multiple benefits to the nearly one million people we serve. 

“This filtration facility will improve public health and water quality and increase the drinking water system’s resilience and reliability,” said supervising engineer David Peters.

Early decisions for the new facility were made using a process grounded in community and Water Bureau values. More than 1,600 customers and 20 stakeholder groups weighed in. These values are being incorporated throughout the project and help inform decisions. Nearby neighbors of the filtration plant are engaging in a Good Neighbor Agreement process to give input on the design of the plant, construction management, and mitigation options.

“The City Council will make decisions together, with the advice of the Portland Utility Board and with our ratepayers and the Site Advisory Committee,” said Commissioner Amanda Fritz.

As the facility is being designed and during construction, additional property and easements from property owners may need to be purchased. Any purchases above the financial thresholds in City Code must be approved by City Council.

“Keeping sight of the goal is critical,” said Peters. “This project will help the Portland Water Bureau provide safe and abundant water to a million people for generations to come.”

Click here for more information about the Bull Run Filtration Project.

Oct. 8, 2019: Administrative Review Committee Meeting

The Administrative Review Committee reviews ratepayer requests for account adjustments, proposed account actions, and other disputes concerning water, sewer, and/or stormwater accounts.

The purpose of the Committee is to review account issues that ratepayers have been unable to resolve with the bureaus’ Customer Services group. The Committee weighs policies, rates and special circumstances when reviewing an account. The Committee may accept the customer’s request, offer with an alternate remedy, or deny the appeal. Administrative Review Committee decisions are bureau decisions.

The Administrative Review Committee is made up of:

Meeting Information

Portland Water Bureau Interstate Facility
Kelly Butte Room
664 N Tillamook St.
Portland OR 97227

Date: Tuesday, Oct. 8, 2019
Time: 9:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m.
Agenda: Click here

For More Information

Review the City of Portland Water, Sewer, and/or Stormwater Billing Appeal Policy (ADM-14.02).

Questions? Contact us at (503) 865-2755 or PWBCustomerService@portlandoregon.gov

The City of Portland ensures meaningful access to City programs, services, and activities to comply with Civil Rights Title VI and ADA Title II laws and reasonably provides: translation, interpretation, modifications, accommodations, alternative formats, auxiliary aids and services. To request these services, contact 503-823-7432, City TTY 503-823-6868, Relay Service: 711.

Building a Filtration Project Based in Community Values

Portland is building a new filtration facility to keep our water safe and abundant for generations to come.

The Bull Run Filtration Project will remove Cryptosporidium and other contaminants from the Bull Run water supply, producing cleaner, safer water for the one million people who use our water now and for future generations. The project is required by the federal Safe Drinking Water Act and must be completed by September 30, 2027, per a bilateral compliance agreement with the Oregon Health Authority.

Today the Portland Utility Board will hear a presentation from our staff on the project and what we’re doing to address costs and plan for Portland’s future.

A handout will be provided at the meeting that outlines this work.

Building a Filtration Project Based in Community Values

Outreach efforts have made over 180,000 contacts. Customers tell us they most value:

  • Water quality and public health protection
  • Best value for customers
  • Minimizing community impacts to rural site neighbors
  • Reliable, consistent water

What Risks Do We Face?

There are a variety of challenges to maintaining a reliable drinking water supply, including:

  • Forest fires
  • Algal toxins
  • Aging infrastructure
  • Earthquakes

Finding the Right Investment Level for Portland

Additional investments in the Filtration Project provide greater protection for customers—addressing risks like forest fires and algal toxins that impact water quality, decreasing need for groundwater and curtailments, and replacing aging infrastructure.

Table of Benefits

Additional Investment Now Saves Money in the Future

Full implementation now increases current rate impacts but saves money overall and reduces how much customers will be paying in the long-term.

Maintaining Affordability While Providing Needed Investments

Low income customers will be financially supported through our customer assistance program. Investments in water quality and reliability have the greatest benefit to customers with the fewest resources.

Learn More

Learn more about the Bull Run Filtration Project and what the future holds for ensuring you continue to receive excellent drinking water for generations to come.

City Council hears update on progress, new cost estimate for Bull Run Filtration Project

Photo credit by Luke Szatmary

Portland Water Bureau leadership and staff briefed City Council on progress of the federally required Bull Run filtration project at a September work session.

On the agenda: revisiting project costs initially estimated in 2017 and providing a series of cost options for the Council to consider for the project moving forward. The 2017 estimate served as a placeholder until more planning work could happen. It was based on facilities constructed in other communities and was provided to the City Council as a value to compare available treatment options.

Since then, the Water Bureau has engaged in a significant planning effort resulting in a more defined project scope that reflects community needs and values, today’s materials and labor costs, and direction from policy-makers and regulators. It also reflects site-specific projections for pipeline and other costs, as a location had not been chosen at the time of the 2017 council decision.

Two years of extensive planning work also provided an in-depth evaluation of filtration facilities and pipeline needs. The cost estimate presented to City Council includes the cost of construction, engineering, and management for the future filtration facility and, includes new pipeline segments that connect to existing supply lines from the Bull Run Watershed. The pipelines also provide the added benefits of replacing nearby aging pipelines that do not meet current seismic standards and are at risk of failure due to their poor condition.

Estimated monthly bill increase is 76 cents in 2020 gradually increasing to $10.91 in 2028 for the typical single family residential customerBureau staff recommended a full implementation option, which includes constructing the project in one phase to provide the highest-quality water, best protection against risks such as algal toxins and forest fires, and the lowest cost over time. Other options are to build the project in phases over a longer period – making the project more expensive in the long-term but lessening rate impacts in the short term.

Guided by community values

Throughout the process, decisions related to the Bull Run Treatment Program are guided by community values established through community engagement, including interviews with stakeholder groups, focus groups, statistically significant telephone surveys, online surveys completed by more than 1,800 water customers, open houses, and community forums. Customers said they value excellent water quality, getting good value from investments, improving reliability, and minimizing impacts on the community and environment. The eight-year filtration project has already presented opportunities for community engagement—of which there will be many more in the coming years.

Coming up:

  • The Portland Utility Board will hear an update on the project Oct. 1.
  • A Site Advisory Group, consisting of project site neighbors and stakeholders, will begin meeting Oct. 3.
  • Feedback from these groups and the community will be shared with City Council. The City Council is expected to provide the bureau direction on the project in November..

About this project

The Bull Run Filtration Project will remove Cryptosporidium and other contaminants from the Bull Run water supply, producing cleaner, safer water for the one million people who use our water now and for future generations. The project is required by the federal Safe Drinking Water Act and must be completed by September 30, 2027, per a bilateral compliance agreement with the Oregon Health Authority.

To learn more, visit portlandoregon.gov/water/filtration.

Join the Bull Run Treatment Projects email list to stay engaged at portlandoregon.gov/water/BRTPemailnews

Competition in the Bull Run: The Spotted Owl’s Struggle and the Story Behind It

Barred and spotted owls are in an unequal match-up. They vie for the same land, food, and nesting habitat to raise their young. And the invasive barred owls are winning, thanks to a few important advantages.

Adult male spotted owl near at its nest site in April 2019.

There’s a competition underway in the Bull Run Watershed.

Barred and spotted owls are in an unequal match-up. They vie for the same land, food, and nesting habitat to raise their young. And the invasive barred owls are winning, thanks to a few important advantages.

Spotted owls: A Pacific Northwest native

Spotted owls were common in our region’s formerly abundant old-growth habitat, free from the competition posed by barred owls. Historically, dozens of pairs of spotted owls called the Bull Run Watershed home.

And then the barred owl arrived.

A competitor arrives


Barred owl migration patterns. Courtesy National Audubon Society

Prior to expanding their range, barred owls were confined to the eastern United States. But around 100 years ago they began expanding northward into eastern Canada, then turned west, then south, expanding from Canada into Washington State and then into Oregon and California. By the 1980s, barred owls were being found in the Bull Run.

Barred owls are formidable competitors. They have the advantage of using all forest types, unlike the spotted owl, which strongly prefers old-growth forest, especially for nesting. Barred owls are also aggressive and will physically attack spotted owls, which drives spotted owls into seclusion.

Today, barred owls are probably the single biggest threat to spotted owl persistence in the Bull Run.

“We don’t know how many spotted owls currently occupy the Bull Run,” says John Deshler, Water Bureau wildlife biologist, “But no owl researcher would refute that it is fewer than were historically there.”

A small success


Two young spotted owls on their nest tree in the South Fork Bull Run basin in June 2019.


A recently fledged spotted owl on the forest floor close to its nest tree near Reservoir 2 in the Bull Run Watershed. Photo taken in June 2019.

Spotted owls are now found only in the best old-growth habitats in increasingly isolated refuges, where they continue to compete with barred owls that also occupy these premium habitats.

But there have been recent successes for spotted owls in Bull Run.

Surveys in a few areas of the Bull Run, associated with road improvement projects, located two spotted owl pairs and two other territorial males in 2019. Those two pairs nested successfully, producing three owlets among them.

But the time for celebration hasn’t arrived just yet. The future of spotted owls in Bull Run remains uncertain.

“Even though spotted owls can sometimes breed successfully in the Bull Run, it is unknown whether their offspring can compete with barred owls and establish their own territories,” says Deshler.

Protecting the Bull Run Watershed

The Bull Run Watershed is the primary drinking water source for the City of Portland. Responsible management, stewardship, and protection of the Bull Run and the wildlife that live there are vital to ensuring the safety and abundance of our region’s drinking water.

Learn more about how protecting and caring for the Bull Run Watershed supports our mission of serving excellent water every minute of every day.