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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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Your Grant Questions Answered

Questions that come in will be answered directly and posted here for all potential applicants. 

Question: At this point, are you only taking applications for community partners or for individuals needing served through the program? 

Answer: Both.  Customers with water leaks can apply for leak repair assistance online at or by calling 503-823-4527.  We do have a waitlist, but we hope to move through it pretty quickly once we have access to our new fiscal year funding (July 1st).

Question: Do (organizations that apply) need to be licensed plumbers? 

Answer: No.  Licensed plumbers need to do the work, but the role of the partner is to hire the plumber/coordinate the repair on behalf of the bureau. 

Question: What exactly what would we be coordinating?

From the application/information packet: Community partner role

Program outreach

  • Partners will actively promote the program to clients who may qualify as a part of their program offerings.
  • Partners will feature the program during events, workshops, and communications campaigns.
  • Complete intake (after customers are screened by the bureau)
  • Contact referred customers to gather any other needed intake information (anything your organization needs that was not already collected by the Portland Water Bureau (PWB). The bureau will share application information to reduce duplicating intake processes.

Coordinate repairs

  • Schedule community partner staff or licensed contract plumber to visit the property to assess the scope of plumbing work needed.
  • Coordinate response to needed plumbing repairs and issue work orders to the licensed plumbing contractor(s).

Provide water efficiency services

  • As is manageable within the community partner’s current framework:
  • Perform a short water audit for qualified customers, including leak detection and an inventory of recommended water efficiency actions.
  • The bureau is available to train staff in water efficiency and leak detection techniques.
  • Install or provide water efficiency devices as needed. Devices will be provided by the Water Bureau.

Ensure quality

  • Schedule staff to inspect repair work with the property owner after completion and evaluate client satisfaction.
  • Verify that the contractors have required insurance and permits, and complete required inspections when applicable.
  • Verify that all repairs made conform with City and County codes.
  • Verify that all contractors bidding and performing work on pre-1978 homes have an active Lead-Based Paint Renovator’s License from the Oregon Construction Contractor’s Board.
  • Confirm all repairs come with a one-year warranty.

Pay contractors and follow up with the bureau

  • Provide data to the bureau on customers served, leaks repaired, and repair dates by the 15th of each month for work performed during the previous month. This can be as simple as sending copies of paid invoices that include this information.
  • If the repair is quoted above certain thresholds, partners will need to coordinate with the Water Bureau for approval on the repair.
  • We will also want customers to help with outreach (letting people know about the program) and follow up (checking in with the customer to make sure the repair went well). You’ll be paying the plumber directly for the work.

Question: Are we (community partners) doing the installs of whatever you have or just giving them to needy clients?

Answer: We (PWB) will pre-screen and prioritize customers so partners will just be working down that list to coordinate repairs. If you have clients that need the service, you’ll direct them to the Water Bureau and we’ll do the intake process then refer them to partners to coordinate the repair.

 Question: How many clients are you expecting each group to handle?

Answer: We (PWB) don’t know how many community partners we’ll select or how many applications for repair assistance will come in over the year, but with the funding we have currently, we anticipate being able to serve between 150-200 people between all partners.

Question: What is the time frame of the grant? To get all work completed?

Answer: We have the funding secured for FY 20-21; we anticipate the work taking place September 2020 through June 2021. 

 Question: Is it a reimbursement grant or straight dollar grant?

Answer: Plan that it would be a reimbursement grant, but I am working internally to see if we can write the grant contracts to allow for some funding to be billed upfront to cover some initial costs.   

 Question: Is there an average dollar size for the grant(s)?

Answer: This is a new way of running this program so we don’t have a history of grants to give you an average, but in the past our partnership with Multnomah County has been funded at $60,000-$90,000 per fiscal year.

Question: Can you explain the budget? How much money is the grant for?

Answer: We will award up to $165,000.  This may be to one organization or split between a few.  15% of the total award can be used for administrative purposes.  The rest of the funding should go to direct service (paying plumbers to fix leaks, in home assessments and water efficiency services).


Question: Will you be paying for washing machine replacements?

Answer: Yes, there may be customers who have very inefficient washing machines.  We may choose to have the machine replaced in order to help the customer better manage their bill.