GENERAL INFORMATION: 503-823-7404
1120 SW Fifth Ave, Suite 600, Portland, OR 97204
There are several ways to get to Washington Park. Parking is limited, particularly during warm, sunny weekends. Please visit the Explore Washington Park website for more information about the variety of travel and parking options.
In order to comply with federal and state mandates and ensure a healthy, resilient, and secure water system, the Portland Water Bureau and Oregon general contractor Hoffman Construction Company are moving forward with an eight-year capital improvement project to update the Washington Park reservoir site at 2403 SW Jefferson Street.
Currently, Washington Park’s open Reservoirs 3 (upper) and 4 (lower) occupy the site along with two gate houses, a weir building, three pump houses, a generator house, and associated underground piping. The reservoirs are part of an ingenious gravity‐fed drinking water system constructed more than 120 years ago in 1893 and 1894, respectively.
Left - Existing: Reservoir 3 from the Grand Stairway
Right - New Construction: Upper Reflecting Pool from the Grand Stairway
Left - Existing: Reservoir 3 with Gate House 3
Right - New Construction: Upper Reflecting Pool at Gate House 3
The Washington Park Reservoir Improvements Project entails building a new, seismically reinforced below ground reservoir. The reservoir will not only maintain the historic drinking water function provided by the original reservoirs, but will be engineered to withstand ongoing landslide encroachment and potentially catastrophic effects of a major earthquake and will feature a reflecting pool on top in the same general footprint as the historical Reservoir 3.
Left - Existing: Reservoir 4 View from Dam 3
Right - New Construction: Lower Reflecting Pool View from Dam 3
Left - Existing: Reservoir 4 View from Above at SW Sherwood Blvd
Right - New Construction: Lower Reflecting Pool View from SW Sherwood Blvd
Reservoir 4 will be disconnected from the public drinking water system, and a lowland habitat area/bioswale and a reflecting pool will be constructed in the basin. Work will primarily be within the Historic District.
When complete and online, the new underground reservoir will supply water to Portland’s west side, including all downtown businesses and residents, the Oregon Zoo, more than 60 parks, six hospitals, and 20 Portland public schools.
The project is part of the Water Bureau’s Capital Improvement Program and funded by revenue bond proceeds paid back with utility ratepayers’ fund.
Four major challenges are driving this project:
The project underwent three Land Use Reviews (LUR):
The applications are a result of a robust public involvement process that included multiple public open houses, nine (9) Community Sounding Board (CSB) meetings that guided design for the required visible features of a new reservoir in Washington Park and five (5) public hearings before the Historic Landmarks Commission. Learn more about the LUR Application process here.
The Washington Park Reservoirs Historic District was listed on the National Historic Registry on January 15, 2004. This means that the proposed work is regulated as in a historic district under City Titles 33.445.300, 33.445.320 and 33.846. The area for the project includes Portland Water Bureau facilities that are both inside and outside the Reservoirs Historic District.
The project work will be located at 2403 SW Jefferson Street, Portland, Oregon. The area is roughly bounded by SW Jefferson St. near the TriMet tunnel and Madison Trail on the east, by SW Lewis and Clark Circle on the north, by SW Oxford Road on the west and by fencing in the woods within Washington Park on the southwest and south. The project area surrounds and includes the two Washington Park reservoirs and related piping, vaults and pumping facilities, and landscaping that are operated and maintained by the Portland Water Bureau.
Reservoir 3 holds approximately 16.4 million gallons of water when full and Reservoir 4 holds 17.6 million gallons. These reservoirs are an essential part of the water system serving areas west of the Willamette River in the city. The pumping facilities on the site ensure water can reach high elevations in the west hills.
The reservoirs, dams, and gatehouse were constructed in the late 1800s, with accessory structures completed slightly later. The area is landscaped with a variety of ground covers, trees and shrubs consistent with the reservoir location within Washington Park. Several of the operational and decorative structures and elements within the Reservoirs Historic District are considered to be “contributing structures” in the National Historic Listing. The project area in the Reservoirs Historic District is surrounded by a chain link fence (the boundary of the Reservoirs Historic District is contiguous with or is just outside this fence in most locations).
Outside the Reservoirs Historic District, the project area includes vaults and piping that are in paved areas near Portland Water Bureau facilities or along Madison Trail, and pavement and gates on Madison Trail. Madison Trail serves as a maintenance road for the Portland Water Bureau and Portland Parks & Recreation, and as a bike and pedestrian path within the park. It is not a public right of way. Several public walkways and trails traverse the project area outside the Reservoirs Historic District and intersect Madison Trail.
The Arlington Heights Neighborhood is to the north and west of the project area, and Goose Hollow Neighborhood is to the east.
The Water Bureau will post a monthly project update and schedule of upcoming project work. To receive these updates directly to your e-mail, click here and register.
Please contact us at your convenience with questions, concerns, or comments:
Thank you for your cooperation and understanding during this important capital improvement project. As always, we’ll strive to provide quick responses to your concerns, minimal disruption near your residence or business, and open and clear communication with you throughout the project.
Park users are encouraged to travel to and move safely around the park. If planning a trip to Washington Park, take a look at current traffic/parking closures and impacts before leaving.