Customer Service: 503-823-7770
GENERAL INFORMATION: 503-823-7404
Drinking water systems, especially unfiltered systems like Portland, need to routinely clean the network of pipes to improve water quality. Over time, very fine sediment and organic matter from the Bull Run Watershed settle out of the water and accumulate in the bottom of the pipes. While the sediments are generally harmless, they can make the disinfectant in the water less effective. Additionally, sudden changes in the flow of water can disturb these sediments resulting in discolored water.
The Portland Water Bureau uses three techniques to clean and maintain the drinking water system: spot flushing, autoflushing, and unidirectional flushing.
Improving and Maintaining High-Quality Drinking Water
Unidirectional flushing is used to improve and maintain our high-quality drinking water. Sediments and deposits in the pipes can discolor drinking water. The high speed water flows used in unidirectional flushing is an efficient and cost-effective way to remove sediments and deposits from the pipes and prevent potential water quality issues.
Flushing in Your Neighborhood
Unidirectional flushing will have minimal impacts to customers. If you see hydrant flushing crews working in the area, please drive carefully and treat them like any other road construction crew.
Flushing usually occurs Monday through Friday, between 8 a.m. and 1:30 p.m.
Residents in the immediate vicinity of flushing may notice temporarily discolored water and lower than normal water pressure. The discoloration does not pose a health risk. However, avoid using tap water or running the washing machine or dishwasher until flushing is complete.
If you experience some discoloration in your water from nearby flushing, run the water at one tap for 2-3 minutes to see if it clears. If it does not clear wait an hour and try again. When the water runs clear, flush any taps where discolored water was present.
The Water Quality Line is available 8:30 am – 4:30 pm Monday-Friday at 503-823-7525 or WBWaterLine@portlandoregon.gov. If you have a discolored water-related emergency after these hours, please call 503-823-4874 option 1 to speak with a Water Bureau Emergency Dispatcher. To learn more about home water quality, visit the Water Bureau’s Drinking Water Quality at Home page.