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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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Climate Change

  • Portland's rain-fed water supply Portland's drinking water reservoirs in the Bull Run Watershed refill from seasonal rainfall. The water supply is therefore less vulnerable to loss of snow from warming temperatures.

  • Planning for summer supply The Bull Run reservoirs draw down during the late spring or summer, and refill in the fall (Click image for Summer Supply Planning information).

  • Future Northwest climate Climate models project a warmer future Northwest with drier summers, wetter winters and heavier rainfall during storm events (Click image for Climate Change in the Northwest report).

  • Portland's groundwater supply increases climate resilience Portland's groundwater supply increases the water system’s resilience to climate change (Click image for groundwater information).

  • Meeting future water demand Portland’s water system is expected to continue meeting customer needs into the future, based on 30-year population and demand projections, and water efficiency.

  • Snow and future stream temperatures Warmer air temperatures are expected to reduce snowpacks and affect water quality for fish.

  • Climate variability The regional will experience annual and seasonal climate variability, even as the climate continues to warm over the next several decades (Click image for National Climate Assessment).

Planning for the future:

The Portland Water Bureau is actively committed to understanding and planning for a range of climate change impacts to the City's drinking water system by:

  • Applying the best available climate science and working with research institutions and climate scientists to assess how climate change could affect the drinking water system and future water supply planning. For example, PWB collaborated with the Climate Impacts Research Consortium (CIRC) to customize hydrologic and climate modeling tools for the Bull Run Watershed. PWB has developed adaptive capacity to use these tools to inform long-term water supply planning, operational management and risk assessment in Portland’s water system. More information on the developed tools are available here.

  • Understanding how climate risks and extreme weather events are likely to affect built assets and infrastructure, and how utilities are responding by building new infrastructure, replacing or repairing assets, and changing operations. A PWB survey report on climate risks to assets is available here.

  • Partnering with large drinking water utilities (through the Water Utility Climate Alliance) and other water utility groups to develop and share climate information, science, and decision support tools;

  • Implementing strategies to prepare for climate change as part of city-wide efforts, including the City of Portland and Multnomah County's Climate Change Preparation Strategy and Risk and Vulnerabilities Assessment;

  • Calculating annual carbon emissions in a Carbon Footprint Report and implementing actions to meet the City's Climate Action Plan goals and reduce the bureau's contribution to climate change.

For more information contact:

Kavita Heyn, Climate Science Program Manager
kavita.heyn@portlandoregon.gov

Learn more about water utility climate adaptation from WUCA:


Learn more:

A Rain-Fed Water Supply

Portland’s primary drinking water supply, the Bull Run Watershed, depends on rain rather than snow, making it more resilient to warming temperatures.

Planning for Summer Supply
The Bull Run reservoirs drawdown during the summer. Fall and spring rains are important for reservoir refill.

Future Northwest Climate
Climate models project a warmer future Northwest with drier summers, wetter winters and heavier rainfall during storm events.

Groundwater Supply Increases Climate Resilience
Portland's backup groundwater supply increases the water system’s resilience to climate change.

Meeting Future Water Demand
Portland’s water system is expected to continue meeting customer needs into the future, based on 30-year population and demand projections.

Snow and Future Stream Temperatures
Snow keeps stream temperatures cold for salmon. Warmer temperatures could lead to less snow in the Bull Run Watershed in the future.

Climate Variability
Northwest climate will continue to be annually and seasonally variable, even as the long-term climate shifts.