Skip to Main Content View Text-Only

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


More Contact Info

June 2019 Update: Washington Park Reservoir Improvement Project

As the weather warms and the Washington Park gardens wake up, crews have been busy making significant headway at the Washington Park Reservoir Improvement Project work site. Accomplishments include:

  • Pouring the first wall sections
  • Setting up stations to infuse concrete with liquid nitrogen which help regulate concrete cooling temperatures
  • Removing of two dead trees outside of the construction work area by Portland Parks & Recreation.
  • Installing the second tower crane

Cooling Concrete with Liquid Nitrogen

Managing the placement and curing of concrete at the Washington Park Reservoir Improvement Project is a delicate act, particularly during the warmer months. As concrete is “batched at the plant” and then is placed and cures, its temperature heats up. During warm weather, it can heat to temperatures that cause thermal stresses and potential concrete damage. To reach the needed strength for the finished concrete, the heat levels need to be controlled to maintain the tolerances required in the reservoir design.

Watch an example video of liquid nitrogen
being injected into concrete.

To ensure the concrete does not overheat during the warmer months, the contractor will cool the concrete with liquid nitrogen. In the Reservoir 4 area, a liquid nitrogen tank and four bays are being temporarily installed. As concrete trucks enter the project site, they will pull into one of the bays where the load will be injected and mixed with liquid nitrogen. Then the truck will move to the construction zone in Reservoir 3 and the concrete will be pumped into the waiting forms.

Things to know about liquid nitrogen:

  • There is the possible presence of fog at the work site. The boiling point of liquid nitrogen is -321 degrees Fahrenheit. When it hits air, it boils and chills the surrounding air, causing the humidity in the air to condense into fog. When this process is in operation, neighbors may notice a fog in the area of Reservoir 4.
  • Liquid nitrogen is cold enough to cause severe frostbite upon contact with living tissue. Workers will be wearing proper safety gear when injecting the nitrogen into the concrete trucks to help prevent contact or inhalation of the extremely cold vapor.
  • A common use of liquid nitrogen is in the freezing and transport of food products.

About this Project

The new 12.4-million gallon, seismically reinforced underground reservoir is being built inside the footprint of the former Reservoir 3. (upper) A new reflection pool on top of the reservoir will retain the historic look and feel of the original. The new reservoir has been engineered to withstand ongoing landside encroachment and potentially catastrophic effects of a major earthquake.

The new reservoir will supply water to Portland’s west side, serving approximately 360,000 people, including all downtown businesses and residents, 20 schools, five hospital complexes, and more than 60 parks.

This system of water conveyance and storage makes Portland a livable and thriving community, ensuring public health and economic viability.

Learn more about this project and the benefits it will provide to our region at

Update: June 11 Administrative Review Committee meeting postponed to a later date

Update: The June 11 Administrative Review Committee meeting has been postponed to a later date

The Administrative Review Committee (ARC) reviews ratepayer requests for account adjustments, proposed account actions, and other disputes concerning water, sewer, and/or stormwater accounts. The purpose of the Committee is to review account issues that ratepayers have been unable to resolve with the bureaus’ Customer Services group. The Committee weighs policies, rates and special circumstances when reviewing an account. The Committee may accept the customer’s request, offer with an alternate remedy, or deny the appeal. Administrative Review Committee decisions are bureau decisions.

Date TBD

Pioneer Tower

Bureau of Environmental Services Pioneer Room, 4th Floor

888 SW 5th Avenue

Portland OR 97201

1.  Welcome: Read preamble for ARC.

2.  Public Comments: Members of the public are invited to introduce themselves and to state their interest in attending the meeting. Anyone who wishes to speak about matters pertaining to the ARC will have the floor for two minutes.

3.  New Business: The Administrative Review Committee will hear two customer appeals about water, sewer and/or stormwater billing.

The Administrative Review Committee is made up of:

  • One representative from the Portland Water Bureau, confirmed by the Commissioner-in-Charge.
  • One representative from the Bureau of Environmental Services, confirmed by the Commissioner-in-Charge.
  • One member of the Portland Utility Board.

For more information

City of Portland Water, Sewer, and/or Stormwater Billing Appeal Policy (ADM-14.02)

Questions? Contact us at 503-865-2755 or

The City of Portland ensures meaningful access to City programs, services, and activities to comply with Civil Rights Title VI and ADA Title II laws and reasonably provides: translation, interpretation, modifications, accommodations, alternative formats, auxiliary aids and services. To request these services, contact 503-823-7432, City TTY 503-823-6868, Relay Service: 711.


Check out the 2019 Drinking Water Quality Report!

The 2019 Drinking Water Quality Report outlines how we are continuing to deliver clean and safe drinking water to nearly a million customers.

Portland’s drinking water comes from two high-quality sources—the Bull Run Watershed and Columbia South Shore Well Field.

What’s in the Report?

The report summarizes water quality results for 2018 and includes information about how we monitor, treat, and distribute your drinking water. The report also provides information on Portland’s drinking water system and how customers can reduce their exposure to lead in drinking water, including by requesting a free-lead-in-water test kit.

Making Excellent Water Better

The report also highlights two major treatment improvements Portland is undertaking. These improvements will provide increased public health protection against lead in household plumbing and Cryptosporidium, an organism that can potentially cause illness. These improvements will also result in more consistent water quality and prepare the water system for future regulations.

How to Access the Report

The Portland Water Bureau is mailing a postcard this week to inform every customer about the availability of this report online. Customers can request a paper copy, either online or by phone.

Do you know someone who could benefit from translated versions of this report? The report is available in Russian, Vietnamese, Chinese, and Spanish. It is also available in screen reader-optimized large print in English.

The report can be found online or by calling the Water Quality Line at 503-823-9444.

'Is There Enough Water to Get Us Through Summer?' Answers to Your Summertime Water Questions

While Portland is fortunate to have an abundant supply of drinking water, once the hot days settle into the Willamette Valley, people begin to ask whether we have enough water to get us through the summer.

The answer is yes.

How We Plan for Summer Water Supply

Each year, our summer supply planning experts develop a Seasonal Water Supply Augmentation and Contingency Plan also known as the Seasonal Supply Plan. This plan evaluates the amount of water that is available from the Bull Run reservoirs and groundwater sources, projected weather forecasts, water releases that we make to improve fish habitat, and the amount of water the region typically uses. Between careful management and the region’s strong conservation efforts, we are prepared to meet Portlanders’ summer water supply needs.

Water supply by month for 2015 and 2018, which are two recent years with hot, dry summers, the historical average daily storage, and 2019 to date.

Did you know that the Bull Run reservoirs can fill up quickly after a long summer drawdown? 
A significant fall rain event can abruptly refill Bull Run Reservoirs in as little as two to three days. That’s about 150 million gallons each hour filling up the reservoirs.

How Your Water System Works

The Bull Run water system is designed to capture and store rainfall from the rainy season to provide enough water during the dry summer months.

Along with stream inflows into the Watershed and the billions of gallons stored in the two reservoirs, there is enough supply to meet water demand during most years just from the Bull Run Watershed.

During drier years, the Columbia South Shore Well Field groundwater source is one of the options we can draw upon to make up any supply deficits.

As we do every year, we are carefully watching our water supply throughout the summer.

Drawdown 101

Drawdown occurs when water demands for Portland’s drinking water, plus fish streamflow needs, are higher than what the streams carry into the reservoirs. This happens every year until the fall rains return and refill the reservoirs. This year, drawdown began on May 7.

Columbia South Shore Well Field

Two Sources, More Choices

Did you know that the Bull Run Watershed gets its water primarily from rain, not snow?

The watershed gets approximately 135 inches of rain each year, about three to four times more rain than we get here in town.

Portland’s secondary water supply is the Columbia South Shore Well Field. The well field has 25 wells in three aquifers that can produce up to 80 million gallons per day. Each year during drawdown, our Operations folks perform a groundwater maintenance operation to ensure that the well field is operational in the event it is needed for emergency supply.

With an average daily summer water demand of 120 million gallons, the bureau carefully plans to meet the needs of our customers.

Conserving Water Starts at Home

The Water Bureau’s best partner in ensuring that we have more than enough water for years to come is you!

The bureau has a Water Efficiency Program where you can learn more about using water wisely all year round with information about native plants in your garden and high-efficiency devices for your showers, faucet and toilets.

Water Planning Information

For updates and more information about how we plan for future water use, visit

How to Protect Yourself from Water Theft

You wake up one morning to find your outdoor faucet turned on full-blast, but you didn’t turn it on. How did this happen?

It may seem like an obscure crime, but every year our customer service team receives calls from customers who report people stealing water from unsuspecting households. Thieves simply help themselves to unlocked hose bibs, or prank-players turn on your outdoor spigot for whatever reason prank players play pranks. KGW reported last year that customers in Southeast Portland had their outdoor hose bibs—another name for an outdoor spigot—turned on without their knowledge.

Concerned about water theft? Take a moment to share this information with your neighbors, family, and friends.

Locked hose spigotHose Bib Locks Can Prevent Water Theft 

Hose bib locks are designed to secure a faucet from unauthorized tampering and water theft. Many locks fit three-quarter inch (¾”) garden hose thread faucets and are perfect for securing vacant homes, winterizing, or any time you want to have full control of water use from your hose bib. 

Hose bib locks are small, inexpensive, easy to install, and can be found at most local home improvement stores and online. 

And if you wake up one morning to find your spigot spewing water and you suspect foul play, call the police and make a report.


Contact the Portland Water Bureau. We're here to help!