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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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Supporting the community in a time of need

COVID-19 has presented numerous challenges for everyone, however, Portland has risen to the occasion. Portland Water Bureau employees are working hard to keep city infrastructure sound, as well as deliver excellent water to Portland residents. Outside their hours in the office and the field, PWB employees continue to give their time and efforts to the community.

Engineering Supervisor Michelle Lostra spends much of her free time sewing beautiful masks to help stop the spread of COVID-19. Lostra teamed with her sisters and a handful of others to give out hundreds of masks to an assisted living center near her home. Some of the masks were also given out at a Multnomah Gardens Post Office.

"I think it's just kind of fun," said Lostra, who learned to sew in middle school. "It's just nice to be able to give something to my community. I'm going around my neighborhood and giving them out. I've thought about packing them in my pockets so when I go out to the store if I see someone without a mask I can give them one."

Physical distancing while working at Dodge Park

Portland Water Bureau personnel continue to do essential work during our COVID-19 response. Schedules have shifted. Some work assignments have changed. Our commitment to serving excellent water every minute of every day continues.

Here are the words of Fish Biology Burke Strobel describing how his team adapted to physical distancing restrictions while delivering on this vital work:

 

We scrambled that first weekend, when we were told we needed to work from home. We needed to get a second vehicle because we normally go out in groups of two. We have had to rearrange how we do different tasks in the field.  

Before we would switch tasks between people. You’d have one person going to check fish traps and the other person running the processing station for weighing the fish. Then the person who took the fish from the traps would weigh the fish, and the other person would take in the data.  

Now we don’t switch up. One person does one task the entire day so they’re the only one who comes in contact with their equipment. We’ve reduced the amount of sampling to the bare minimum for what we have to do to eliminate as much contact as possible.  

We do our work at Dodge Park. Things are definitely quieter there than they used to be. When you’re in the park it does feel quieter than it did before. But if you get into the woods then there’s not much of a difference. The difference for us is we’re taking pains to make sure we’re further apart from one another.  

There’s an appreciation that it’s important work. I think everybody on the crew feels lucky that they do get to keep going out. That their job is one of the jobs that’s still allowed to be done because its both important and it’s something that can be done with minimal risk. 

MEDIA ADVISORY: City of Portland Utilities Pledge $1 Million for Small Businesses Impacted by COVID-19

PORTLAND, OR – Mayor Ted Wheeler and Commissioner Amanda Fritz are taking additional steps to help City of Portland sewer, stormwater, and water small business customers with their utility bills during the ongoing public health and economic crisis with the Small Business Program for Utility Relief (SPUR). The Portland Water Bureau and Bureau of Environmental Services have pledged $1 million in financial support for small businesses impacted by the pandemic. Credits for City of Portland utility bills are expected to assist between approximately 200 and 300 small businesses and will range between $1,000 and $10,000. The City of Portland utility bureaus are partnering with Prosper Portland, the city’s economic development agency, to develop criteria for providing relief to impacted businesses.

“Today’s actions build upon our continued efforts to help each other weather the COVID storm,” said Mayor Ted Wheeler. “Portland is a small business town. Our small businesses are employers, neighbors, and mainstays of our neighborhoods. By helping small businesses, especially Black, indigenous, people of color, and women-owned businesses, we are contributing to the City’s resilience and recovery.”

More information is available at the Water Bureau’s website, portlandoregon.gov/water/smallbiz. Business owners can sign up now to get an announcement when the application opens. Applications will be open for two weeks beginning July 8, and will be evaluated using a racial equity and vulnerability lens. Applications will not be evaluated on a first come-first served basis.

“Small businesses give Portland its unique character and add to its vibrant economic fabric. This funding is designed to help our most vulnerable businesses weather the storm of the pandemic. We know that a racial wealth gap and barriers to capital exist,” Commissioner Amanda Fritz said. “We are designing a program that prioritizes assistance on utility bills for businesses owned by Black, Indigenous, and all People of Color (BIPOC) and women.”

“Many local businesses are facing significant hardships,” said Prosper Portland Executive Director Kimberly Branam. “We look forward to collaborating with the Water Bureau and the Bureau of Environment Services to create a program that provides equitable access to crucial utility payment assistance for small businesses in this challenging time.”

In addition to this support for small businesses, the bureaus have expanded the financial assistance program for residential customers. Portland City Council recently approved an expansion of the Water Leak Repair Assistance Program, which more than doubles funding to help income-qualified homeowners make necessary water leak repairs to their homes.

“We continue to look for ways to reduce barriers and get financial assistance to those in need,” Water Bureau Director of Customer Service Kathy Koch said. “We have temporarily relaxed eligibility requirements for our bill discount program, including the proof-of-income documentation requirement. We are seeing more people signing up for these programs and we are ready to help.”

The City of Portland utility bureaus continue to offer all customers no-interest flexible payment schedules. In response to the crisis, the utility bureaus have temporarily suspended late fees, collections and water shut-offs on accounts with past-due balances. Financial assistance may not cover an entire bill, so bureaus recommend that customers continue to make payments that are manageable to them to avoid a potentially larger balance in the future.

The financial assistance programs serve thousands of Portlanders and offer a menu of options for reducing or waiving portions of the utility bills. These include:

Services for residential customers:

Services for all customers:

  • Monthly statements offer the option of paying each month to avoid a quarterly bill that includes three months of sewer/stormwater/water charges.
  • Clean River Rewards provide savings for those who manage stormwater on their property.
  • Water Efficiency offers free water-saving devices and rebates for toilet and irrigation upgrades.

To learn more about how the City can help, or to view the detailed information about these programs, please start here. If you still have questions, email  PWBCustomerService@portlandoregon.gov or contact City Customer Service staff at 503-823-7770. Limited staffing may result in longer response time.

ABOUT THE PORTLAND WATER BUREAU 

The Portland Water Bureau serves water to almost a million people in the Portland area. Portland’s water system includes two great water sources, 53 tanks and reservoirs, and 2,200 miles of pipes. With 600 employees working on everything from water treatment to customer service, the Water Bureau is committed to serving excellent water every minute of every day. Find us on Twitter @PortlandWater and visit us at portlandoregon.gov/water.

About the Portland Bureau of Environmental Services 

The City of Portland Bureau of Environmental Services - your sewer and stormwater utility - provides Portland residents with programs to protect water quality and public health, including wastewater collection and treatment, sewer construction and maintenance, stormwater management, and stream and watershed restoration.  Follow on Twitter - @BESPortland. On the web: portlandoregon.gov/bes/news.

About PROSPER PORTLAND 

Prosper Portland creates economic growth and opportunity for Portland. Our vision is to make Portland one of the most globally competitive, healthy, and equitable cities in the world by investing in job creation, encouraging broad economic prosperity, and fostering great places throughout the city. We aspire to be a workplace of choice with passionate staff excelling in an open and empowering environment and sharing a commitment to our collective success. Follow us on Twitter @prosperportland or visit us at prosperportland.us.

Drinking Water Quality Report headed your way

A preview of the Portland Water Bureau’s 2020 Drinking Water Quality Report will land in your mailbox this week. Portlanders already know a lot about our drinking water. We make it easy for you to learn more – what’s in your water, what’s not, and how people at the Portland Water Bureau work everyday to keep your water safe and protected.

If you only learn one thing from this report, it’s that Portland Water Bureau continues to deliver clean and safe drinking water that meets or surpasses drinking water standards to nearly a million customers. But did you also know that the Portland Water Bureau performs approximately 12,000 tests per year to track more than 200 contaminants?

“This pandemic underscores the critical role that access to safe drinking water plays in public health. Dedicated people are working hard to monitor, treat and protect the water our community relies on. We do the work so you never have to worry about a future without this precious resource,” said Water Bureau Director Michael Stuhr.

This year’s report includes:

  • Information about how we monitor, treat, and deliver your drinking water.
  • Drinking water quality results from 2019 and provides information about your drinking water system.
  • Updates on drinking water treatment projects. These improvements will provide increased public health protection against lead in household plumbing and Cryptosporidium, an organism that can potentially cause illness.
  • Learn about how the Water Bureau is keeping up with new technology and regulations.

The Portland Water Bureau is sending a mailer this week to inform every customer about the availability of this report online. Customers can request a paper copy online or by phone at 503-823-9444. The report is also available in Russian, Vietnamese, Chinese, Spanish, and screen reader-accessible large print.

Why filtration is still the right choice for our community

Commissioner's view: New facility is a federal mandate, and will create jobs and safer water.

This appeared in the Portland Tribune on May 29.

In almost two years as the commissioner in charge of the Portland Water Bureau, I have been proud to follow Commissioner Nick Fish's legacy of leading restored public trust in the public servants providing the Portland area's delicious, safe drinking water. We have demonstrated leadership in public health, resilience, affordability and equity. These values are exemplified in the Bull Run Filtration Project.

Public health is the primary driver in this project. Portland is required by the federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to upgrade the Bull Run system to remove Cryptosporidium and other microorganisms from our drinking water. We don't have a choice. Cryptosporidium is a disease-causing microorganism that can cause serious illness for people with compromised immune systems and other medical conditions. Filtration will protect the most medically vulnerable water users. The City committed to EPA to install it.

Filtration goes far beyond just public health. The technology at the plant will remove sediment, organic material, and other potential contaminants. Filtration will provide consistent high-quality drinking water, making the water system more reliable in an earthquake, forest fire, algae bloom or other unforeseen scenarios. A safe and abundant drinking water supply fuels our economy and our community.

While less expensive options like ultraviolet (UV) treatment exist, they only treat Cryptosporidium. Nothing more. There are no other water quality benefits to UV. 

Public health is the primary driver in this project. Portland is required by the federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to upgrade the Bull Run system to remove Cryptosporidium and other microorganisms from our drinking water. We don't have a choice. Cryptosporidium is a disease-causing microorganism that can cause serious illness for people with compromised immune systems and other medical conditions. Filtration will protect the most medically vulnerable water users. The City committed to EPA to install it.

Filtration goes far beyond just public health. The technology at the plant will remove sediment, organic material, and other potential contaminants. Filtration will provide consistent high-quality drinking water, making the water system more reliable in an earthquake, forest fire, algae bloom or other unforeseen scenarios. A safe and abundant drinking water supply fuels our economy and our community.

While less expensive options like ultraviolet (UV) treatment exist, they only treat Cryptosporidium. Nothing more. There are no other water quality benefits to UV. 

Public health is the primary driver in this project. Portland is required by the federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to upgrade the Bull Run system to remove Cryptosporidium and other microorganisms from our drinking water. We don't have a choice. Cryptosporidium is a disease-causing microorganism that can cause serious illness for people with compromised immune systems and other medical conditions. Filtration will protect the most medically vulnerable water users. The City committed to EPA to install it.

Filtration goes far beyond just public health. The technology at the plant will remove sediment, organic material, and other potential contaminants. Filtration will provide consistent high-quality drinking water, making the water system more reliable in an earthquake, forest fire, algae bloom or other unforeseen scenarios. A safe and abundant drinking water supply fuels our economy and our community.

While less expensive options like ultraviolet (UV) treatment exist, they only treat Cryptosporidium. Nothing more. There are no other water quality benefits to UV. 

In 2017 under the leadership of Commissioner Fish — who worked so hard to restore public trust in the Water Bureau and to defend it against attacks from private interests — public health experts, utility oversight groups and community members weighed in. The City reached an agreement with the Oregon Health Authority on the filtration mechanism and timeline to meet federal EPA requirements. The filtration project must be completed by 2027. Many decisions have not yet been made and the bureau continues to work with neighbors on designing a facility that reduces disruptions and fits into the character of this rural community. Like Commissioner Fish, I have always believed government should keep its promises and do what it says it will do. We are committed to working with nearby neighbors to address their concerns, while fulfilling our obligation to nearly one million people who rely on safe, abundant Bull Run water.

Affordability is key in this project. This fall, we hope to close on a long-term, low-cost loan from the Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (WIFIA) program for this project. WIFIA was founded with leadership by Oregon's Senator Jeff Merkley to significantly reduce costs while creating jobs and investing in needed drinking water infrastructure. This project will be especially important to help put Oregonians back to work after the COVID-19 crisis abates. Backing out now would be hugely damaging to Portland's ratepayers and to the City's ability to secure federal assistance on other programs. I share the concern for ratepayers — I am one. The WIFIA loan will pay for multiple system improvements, at lower cost to ratepayers than if we had to shoulder the debt without federal assistance.

Capital spending on crucial water infrastructure projects creates and sustains jobs. The Bull Run Treatment Project is estimated to create approximately 7,500 direct construction jobs over the years of the project, as well as a dozen permanent full-time jobs after construction. The project also includes Community Benefits Agreements to support openings for Disadvantaged, Minority-Owned, Women-Owned, and Emerging Small Businesses firms. People previously unable to benefit from the Carpenter Lane site will have opportunities in the construction project.

I'm also the co-founder and Commissioner in Charge of the Office of Equity and Human Rights. We all deserve access to clean safe, reliable drinking water. From Flint, Michigan, to the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, when water infrastructure fails, the impacts are concentrated on the most vulnerable. The filtration facility will provide safe and abundant water for generations to come.

We live in uncertain times. The Portland Water Bureau remains committed to public health, reliability, resilience, and equity. This is why we need a reliable filtration facility now, more than ever.

Amanda Fritz was first elected to the City Council in 2008. She will retire after three terms at the end of the year.