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Portland Water Bureau

From forest to faucet, we deliver the best drinking water in the world.


1120 SW Fifth Ave, Suite 600, Portland, OR 97204

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Analyzing Water Samples Collected from Forest to Faucet

By Lindsay Wochnick Add a Comment


Since the early 1960s, the Portland Water Bureau has been fortunate to have a water quality testing laboratory, first in the Bull Run Watershed near the treatment facility, then for the last 23 years at the Interstate facility. 

Currently, the lab has eight full time employees: a laboratory manager, a laboratory coordinator, four laboratory analytical specialists, and two laboratory analyst IIs.

The lab is accredited to run drinking water analysis by Oregon Health Authority. To maintain accreditation, the following is required by the lab:

  • Pass two blind performance tests each year for each of the 30 analytical methods.
  • Maintain Standard Operating Procedures (SOPS).
  • Have a Quality Manual.
  • Conduct an in-house assessment by accreditors every two years.
  • Document everything!

By the Numbers

  • The lab performs approximately 30 analytical methods for drinking water and environmental water samples.
  • The lab performs about 95 percent of the drinking water analyses that are required for compliance with state and federal drinking water regulations for the bureau.
  • Last year, the lab processed approximately 11,000 samples for compliance and process control, producing approximately 58,000 sample results plus another 30,000 QC results. Samples were collected from the Bull Run Reservoirs and Lake, Lusted conduits, the ground water system, the distribution system, water mains construction and repair projects, water system customers, and research projects.

Portland Water Bureau Encourages Student STEM Heroes

By Lindsay Wochnick Add a Comment


May 2-10 is STEM Week Oregon, a state-wide celebration to engage young people in activities involving science, technology, engineering and math (STEM).  The U.S. Department of Education reports that only 16 percent of American high school seniors are proficient in math and interested in a STEM career.  The Portland Water Bureau is working to change that by sponsoring a limited number of teachers to implement a curriculum enhancement called “STEMhero” (

STEMhero is a bilingual, technology-based, program that leads students through collecting and analyzing data directly from their home and/or school’s utility meters, then engineering and testing real-world solutions to save water and energy.  STEMhero is middle school-focused and aligned to state science standards.

The response from teachers and students has been great!  One teacher notes, “STEMhero was an invaluable component of our students’ experience last year. We saw students begin to understand how water usage works in homes and businesses. What’s more, several students became genuinely invested in exploring ways to make changes in their own water use at home, school, and work…” 

Teachers using the program have been impressed with how easy it is to use, and how it enhances connections for students, tying learning to their lives.  In a world that needs more STEM professionals, it’s exciting to see kids making these real-life applications of STEM skills.

Want to get STEMhero for your school? 
To learn more and request the program, call 414-540-8788 or e-mail

Trend on Twitter
Use the #StemWeekOregon hashtag to contribute to the Twitter conversation!

Annual ORWARN Conference Focuses on Practical Preparedness

By Lindsay Wochnick Add a Comment

In late February 2016, more than 70 utility members attended a two-day conference in Newport, Oregon.

Sponsored by the Oregon Water/Wastewater Agency Response Network (ORWARN), the conference brought together national, regional, state, and local experts to converse about steps employees can take - both at home and on the job - to prepare for a major emergency. The conference also focused on preparing utility members to participate in the multistate Cascadia Rising Exercise in June 2016.

More than 20 speakers were on hand to discuss all aspects of resilience for both people and utilities. Two of those speakers hailed from the Portland Water Bureau: Principal Engineer Mary Ellen Collentine and Operations Director Chris Wanner. Chris Wanner was the conference organizer and was instrumental in putting the technical program together, which received rave reviews from the attendees.

The Water Bureau is a strong supporter of attending trainings and building partnerships that help to transcend jurisdictional boundaries. We understand   that effective coordination is essential in preserving lives and property before, during, and after emergency incidents.

Mary Ellen and Chris, both current ORWARN board members, focused on how emergencies can transcend jurisdictional boundaries and why effective coordination is essential in preserving lives and property. During their presentations, they explained how the ORWARN network of member utilities can help to facilitate rapid, short-term deployment of emergency services, in the form of personnel, equipment and materials, required to restore critical operations to utilities that have sustained damages from natural or man-made events.

“WARNs became established to provide rapid deployment of mutual aid to a utility to help restore critical operations,” notes Mary Ellen. “Water and wastewater staff are certified by their states to operate their utility and only similarly skilled staff from other utilities have the training and experience to step in to help. This is why it is so important to participate in mutual aid.”

The last day of the conference included a table top exercise sponsored by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). 

TRAFFIC ADVISORY 04/22/16: Preparation for Washington Park Reservoir Improvements Project Begins Spring 2016, Impacts to Travel

By Lindsay Wochnick Add a Comment

Official Traffic Advisory

In order to comply with federal and state mandates and ensure a healthy, resilient, and secure water system, the Portland Water Bureau and Oregon general contractor Hoffman Construction Company are moving forward with an eight-year capital improvement project to update the Washington Park reservoir site at 2403 SW Jefferson Street.

Beginning late April 2016 and lasting for two to three weeks, the Portland Water Bureau and our contractor will begin preparing the project site by working with the City of Portland’s arborist to remove vegetation and trees below lower Reservoir 4 near the pump station facilities and adjacent to SW Jefferson Street. All work will occur within the project site.

Selective tree pruning and inspection will also occur within the project site, around Reservoir 3 and 4, and along SW Sacajawea Boulevard, SW Lewis Clark Way, and SW Madison Court. Pruning and inspection will occur intermittently Monday through Friday, between 7 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Travelers and park users are asked to exercise caution and drive slowly around tree pruning work areas.

Park users are encouraged to travel to and move safely around the park and its attractions by using the bus and light rail, walking, biking and skating, and taking the free park shuttle. Visit and for transit options.

The project entails building a new, seismically reinforced below ground reservoir. The reservoir will not only maintain the historic drinking water function provided by the original reservoirs, but will be engineered to withstand ongoing landslide encroachment and potentially catastrophic effects of a major earthquake and will feature a reflecting pool on top in the same general footprint as the historical Reservoir 3. Reservoir 4 will be disconnected from the public drinking water system, and a lowland habitat area/bioswale and a reflecting pool will be constructed in the basin.

For additional project information and updates, or to contact us with questions or concerns:

Reach us by Phone: 503-823-7030
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Happy Earth Day!

By Lindsay Wochnick Add a Comment

Quarter Mile Pool, Upper Bull Run River

Portlanders have good reasons to celebrate!

Over the past ten years, our city’s population has grown by 18 percent—but the city’s total water use has decreased by 13 percent. Here are some ways you can be part of the trend:

Here are some ways the Portland Water Bureau works year-round to take care of natural resources:

  • We deliver most of the region's drinking water using a free and very efficient resource: gravity. When engineers designed Portland’s early water system in the 1890s, they designed pipelines to bring the water from Bull Run to Portland entirely by gravity.
  • As the water system delivers drinking water, it also produces clean energy. The Bull Run Dams and in-pipe turbines make use of the water moving through them, reducing the bureau’s net carbon footprint.
  • Because Portland's system relies on the Bull Run River for most of its water, there have been impacts to the fish populations native to the area. Through the Bull Run Water Supply Habitat Conservation Plan, the bureau works to protect fish species listed under the Endangered Species Act—Chinook and coho salmon, as well as steelhead trout—in the Bull Run and in the Sandy River Basin beyond.