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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


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Invisible Heroes Kept Customers in Water Despite 27 Main Breaks


Between Dec. 23 and Jan. 4, the cold temperatures triggered 27 water main breaks in all quadrants of the city – with seven alone between the evenings of Saturday, Jan. 2 and Sunday, Jan. 3.

At the Portland Water Bureau, we call this time of year “Main Break Season”. The Water Bureau’s Maintenance and Construction crews are called out at all hours of the day and night in even the most severe weather to repair broken water mains. Main breaks occur on average about 200 times each year through the system, which is relatively low compared to other cities of comparable age and size.

Our cast iron water mains tend to break more frequently during winter months as water temperature changes and changing soil conditions provide an environment that exposes weaknesses in aging pipe.

Despite the 27 breaks between Dec. 23 and Jan. 4, only a handful of customers and businesses had their water service disrupted because of a main break, as crews were able to repair most main breaks without shutting down the affected mains.

“Good on these city workers for providing clean, safe, and delicious drinking water to the taps of our neighbors!” said a Water Bureau customer from Southwest Portland. “You could be warm and cozy with your loved ones right now but instead, you’re ensuring delivery of the best water in the world. Again, thank you all!”

Please be our eyes and ears. If you suspect that a main is broken in your neighborhood, please call the Water Bureau’s 24-hour emergency line at 503-823-4874.


Add a Comment


Stan Cioeta

January 6, 2016 at 10:49 AM

Being a retired Water Bureau employee , praise has to go out to these employees. They endure brutal conditions as the endure service to the customers. Thumbs up.


Mark behnke

January 6, 2016 at 2:15 PM

I can remember many a brutal cold day or night repairing a lot of main breaks. As a retired Bureau employee I haven't repaired any in a few years and I'm not sure I miss it. It is no fun water is cold air is cold and all this makes the repairs more difficult. Keep up the good work and try to stay warm

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