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Portland Water Bureau

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MAILING ADDRESS: 1120 SW Fifth Ave, Suite 600, Portland, OR 97204

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Willamette River Crossing Project


Willamette River Crossing Project

Portland’s water supply system has met the demands of a growing city for more than 125 years. Six pipelines cross the Willamette River to deliver water to Portland’s west side from the east. Some are buried in soils susceptible to liquefaction, others are suspended under bridges. The greatest seismic hazard to existing river crossings is a Cascadia Subduction Zone (CSZ) earthquake. It’s been 317 years since the last CSZ earthquake, and there is a 30–35 percent chance its fault will rupture in the next 50 years.

The Willamette River Crossing Project provides added protection to the backbone of our water supply system.

Willamette River Crossing cross section

Willamette River Crossing infoStrengthening the Backbone of Portland’s Water Supply System

The risks and consequences of a CSZ earthquake are real and immediate, which is why the Portland Water Bureau has prioritized this project. Along with other system improvement—new reservoirs at Kelly Butte, Powell Butte, and Washington Park—the Willamette River Crossing Project, or WRX, will improve the backbone of Portland’s water system, greatly increasing the entire city’s ability to bounce back and provide water after any seismic event.

Willamette River Crossing boundaryHow Will It Be Built

The Portland Water Bureau is using a “design-build” method for the Willamette River Crossing Project. This means the project team is collaborating with a contractor to design the project. This allows for feedback loops throughout design that will offer early and ongoing opportunities to mitigate negative construction impacts, which will ultimately improve construction timelines, and provide the best value for our customers.

Project Timeline

Willamette River Crossing project timelineThe project is in the planning phase, with design and construction anticipated to begin in 2018. WRX will use horizontal directional drilling technology (HDD) which means the project can be constructed without in-water work, and no impacts to shipping, recreation, fish habitat, or other environmental factors. The water main will be approximately 4,500 feet long and 80 feet below the bottom of the Willamette River.


For More Information

Terry Black
Portland Water Bureau
Sam Beresky
JLA Public Involvement