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Water Bureau Crews Respond to Hundreds of Calls for Service During Freeze

By Lindsay Wochnick

As a result of the recent freezing temperatures in the Portland metro area, Portland Water Bureau crews have been busy repairing frozen water meters and broken water pipes to homes and businesses.

Ty Kovatch, the Water Bureau’s Maintenance & Construction Director, said that since the freezing temperatures began late last week, crews have responded to more than 500 calls for service, including a high number of residential plumbing issues requiring our crews to provide emergency shut-offs at the residential meter.

Customers can notify the Water Bureau using the 24/7 emergency hotline at 503-823-4874.  If you observe a broken water main, have no water service or have other urgent water problems, contact the Water Bureau immediately.  

During the lengthy period of below freezing temperatures, many calls for service are being received after hours.

To ensure all reported water issues were quickly assessed, a team of dedicated professionals staffed the Water Bureau Dispatch center throughout the day and night and worked diligently to deploy crews immediately out to water emergencies.

Water Main Break in NE Portland
Water Main Break in NE Portland

"Crews have been working over the weekend and after hours,” reports Kovatch. “In fact, over the weekend there were close to 400 calls, including six (6) main breaks, four (4) of which occurred on Friday night alone and a high volume of residential plumbing issues which we help with by shutting off water at the meter.”

As the weather begins to warm and frozen pipes begin to thaw, the Water Bureau expects an increase in the number of calls for service.

“Freezing temperatures like we have had over the past week generate a lot of challenges throughout our large system as well as a lot of challenges for homeowners that we respond to,” said Kovatch, “We also expect additional issues to appear as the temperature warms back up, and we will continue our enhanced response until weather conditions return to normal.”

If customers experience a broken pipe, contact the Water Bureau’s 24/7 Emergency Hotline and ask for assistance in shutting off the main water supply to the house at the street.

The Water Bureau reminds customers that the best way to handle any sort of water emergency in your home including broken pipes is to be prepared before it happens. Taking a few minutes to familiarize yourself with the plumbing system in your home and note the location of all shut off valves are important steps in preventing a plumbing emergency from turning into a disaster.  During periods with temperatures below freezing, it is also a good idea to put insulated covers around your hose bibs, and leave water faucets running at a trickle during evening hours and when no one is home using the water. 

Lindsay Wochnick
Public Information 

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