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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

GENERAL INFORMATION: 503-823-7404

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Water Quality Update: Fall Color in Water

A concrete dam in the background and large trees with leaves changing colorsAs the weather turns colder and the leaves begin to change and fall, Portlanders may notice that their water takes on a subtle tea color. This is a normal change that occurs around this time of the year due to organic materials that have washed into the Bull Run storage reservoirs. Fall rains are responsible for carrying materials into reservoirs and streams before the water is treated.

Our drinking water is treated but not filtered, which is why you may see color at your tap water or staining the filters in your business or home. Learn about upcoming changes to how Bull Run water is treated including the building of a filtration plant by 2027.

What causes “fall color?”

The color is produced by tannins found in the organic materials, like the color you might see in a cup of tea. Tannins do not produce any negative health effects nor do they change the quality of Portland’s water. The length of the fall color season depends on the strength and duration of the rains and the amount of organic material that is carried into the system.

As always, the Portland Water Bureau constantly monitors the water entering our distribution system to continue to meet all state and federal regulations for safe drinking water. Customers will be notified of any changes to water quality safety if they occur.

Any questions may be directed to the Water Quality Information Line at 503-823-7525.