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Portland Water Bureau

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A Spotlight on One of the World's Most Important Resources - Groundwater

This week, the Portland Water Bureau joins the National Groundwater Association and other partners to give special recognition to one of our nation’s most valuable resources - GROUNDWATER.

Readers are encouraged to follow the Water Bureau on Twitter and Facebook for posts that will discuss why groundwater is important to our drinking water supply, and what you can do to be a groundwater steward and help protect this resource.

Groundwater – It’s Right Underneath Your Feet
Groundwater is the water that soaks into the soil from rain or other precipitation and moves deep underground to fill cracks and other openings in beds of rock and sand called aquifers. It is a renewable natural resource when used wisely. Of all the fresh water in the world (excluding polar ice caps), 95 percent is groundwater. Surface water (lakes and rivers) make up only three percent of the world’s fresh water.

Groundwater Affects Everyone
Groundwater provides drinking water for nearly half our nation’s population (including Portland and surrounding communities) and provides about 40 percent of America’s irrigation water. It sustains streamflow between rain events and during long dry periods, and it helps maintain healthy aquatic ecosystems in streams, lakes, and wetlands.

Groundwater Serves as the Secondary Source of Portland’s Drinking Water
To access the water beneath our feet, Portland has 27 wells in three regional aquifers in the Columbia South Shore Well Field. The Well Field can provide 10 to 102 million gallons of drinking water a day in emergency situations or to augment Bull Run supply in the summer. This reliable water source is also a big reason that Portland is able to maintain the region’s primary drinking water supply in the Bull Run watershed as an unfiltered drinking water source. Learn more here. 

Groundwater Protection: Do Your Part
We all play a role in preserving our vital drinking water resources. Whether you’re a resident, business owner, employee or farmer, you can make a difference. Even small amounts of chemicals spilled, leaked or dumped on the ground can find their way into our aquifers.

You are invited to join the Water Bureau in efforts to protect groundwater. Start by taking one or more of the following actions:

  • Carefully follow all instructions for the use, storage and disposal of household chemicals, and never pour them down a storm drain.
  • Check underground storage tanks for leaks. Many older homes have underground heating oil tanks. Information on checking for leaks and decommissioning can be found here.
  • Report chemical spills and illegal dumping. Call Oregon Emergency Response System at 1-800-452-0311 and Bureau of Environmental Services at 503-823-7180.

To increase your groundwater awareness, visit Help promote and protect this valuable resource.


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