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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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Planning and Partnerships Key to Water Bureau's Readiness for Fire Season

The Water Bureau Emergency Operations Center was activated during the Eagle Creek Fire in 2017.

One of the largest wildfires in the Columbia River Gorge, the Eagle Creek Fire, entered the outer geographical boundary of the Bull Run closure area in September 2017 before slowing and eventually being contained following a fortunate shift in weather.  Months of planning and detailed coordination between the bureau and partner agencies responsible for Bull Run fire protection helped to ensure the fire never reached the water supply drainage area or Portland’s drinking water reservoirs.

Critical to this work was communication and relationships, as fire crews were in constant contact with Water Bureau personnel to keep Portland’s drinking water supply safe. Bureau staff provided information to the U.S. Forest Service about the bureau’s protection priorities and watershed conditions, which helped fire managers develop a blueprint for deploying firefighters and other firefighting resources.

Throughout the year, the bureau works closely with the U.S. Forest Service—the primary agency in charge of Bull Run wildfire management—as well as the Oregon Department of Forestry and local fire departments, allowing cooperative development of a comprehensive Bull Run fire management plan.

The plan outlines bureau and agency roles, responsibilities, and strategies for fire prevention, detection, and suppression.

But with wildfire, there’s always more work to do.

Liane Davis attended Eagle Creek Fire Camp to work closely with wildfire partners during the fire.

“Every year and every summer has a new challenge, but the Water Bureau is continually working behind the scenes to protect the Bull Run water supply and ensure that customers continue to receive some of the world’s best water,” said Liane Davis, the Bull Run Watershed Protection Manager for the bureau.

Another fire season begins in just a few months and work is already underway. The bureau also actively works to help prevent large fires in the watershed by prioritizing prevention and early detection measures. Watershed security officers conduct extra patrols throughout fire season, diligently look for anyone who’s illegally trespassing or abandoned campfires left near the Bull Run. The security patrols are very active through the summer months, particularly along the perimeter of the Bull Run Watershed.

“The combination of restricted public access and active monitoring goes a long way in protecting the watershed from human-caused fires,” said Davis.

The bureau also works with the Forest Service to staff the Hickman Butte Fire Lookout, located within the Bull Run Watershed. Having a person watching for fire every day is vital to detecting smoke early; early detection is vital to helping initial suppression efforts be successful

“Wildfire does not know jurisdictions or boundaries on a map,” said Davis. “We’re all in this together, and it’s the work that happens behind the scenes during the year that help us be prepared should an event happen. As we continue to plan for the future, and understand how climate change increases wildfire risk, we’re thankful for close working relationships and the value these partnerships deliver for Portlanders and Oregonians.”

Through year-round preparation, the Portland Water Bureau is ready to respond should an event like the 2017 Eagle Creek Fire happen again.

Summer Events 2019: Where to Find the Portland Water Bureau

Discover how you can reduce water use at home and get answers to your water-related questions at a FREE summer event near you!

Stop by the Water Bureau table for a refill of thirst-quenching tap water. And while you’re there, order a free lead test kit, pick up a faucet aerator, and find out how you or someone you know may quality for the Water Bureau’s financial assistance program.

2019 Summer Event Schedule

Sunday Parkways
Southeast: May 19, North: June 30, Outer Northeast: July 21, Downtown: Aug. 25
Walk, bike, or roll while you explore neighborhood greenways, listen to live music, and connect with local service organizations like Portland Fire & Rescue, Bureau of Environmental Services, the Portland Water Bureau, and more! Get more information about the 2019 Sunday Parkways.

Cycle the Well Field
Saturday, June 1
Bring your bike and your friends for a FREE tour of Portland’s Columbia South Shore Well Field! Experts from the Portland Water Bureau and the Columbia Slough Watershed Council will lead this 16-mile trip on easy terrain. Learn about how groundwater provides flexibility and reliability to the City’s water supply and explain how we can all protect this important resource. Register online.

Latino Home Fair
Saturday, June 8th
This is a great chance to speak with real estate professionals, mortgage lenders, and learn more about resources available to make the home buying experience a successful one. Learn more and register.

Explorando el Columbia Slough
Saturday, June 22nd
Explore nature in the city at the 17th annual ¡Explorando Festival! This bilingual family festival offers nature-based activities in Spanish and English for all ages.  Activities include: guided canoe trips, live music, folk dancing, kids crafts, a scavenger hunt and more.  The Portland Water Bureau will be giving out free water bottles at this event while supplies last.

Good in the Hood
Saturday and Sunday, June 22 and 23
Come to the Good in the Neighborhood Multi-Cultural Music & Food Festival for live music, a parade, an information village, local marketplace, and much more. Learn more.

Jade International Night Market
Saturday, Aug. 24 and 31
The Jade International Night Market events are free, family-friendly, and include retail and food vendors and live entertainment. The Market aims to create community on SE 82nd Avenue by bringing local business owners together and draws the larger Portland community to the multi-ethnic neighborhood. Stop by local vendor booths and service organizations like the Portland Water Bureau to get information and connect with City resources.

Aquifer Adventure
Saturday, Sept. 14
Big and little pirates alike are welcome to join us for a family festival all about groundwater! Play fun games and go on a scavenger hunt in search of hidden treasure - not gold, but groundwater, a precious resource that flows beneath your feet! Learn more and get event details here.

You can keep up with our summer event schedule on Facebook.

Prepare Summer Soils with a Mulch Blanket

Wheelbarrow next to a pile of mulch nuggets

Spring is in the air!  With summer just around the corner, it’s time to get your garden ready to survive (and thrive!) through the hot temperatures. Our Water Efficiency team are pros at helping you reduce outdoor water use while growing the garden of your dreams.

What is an easy and cost-effective way to prepare your garden for summer? Add mulch!

What is mulch?

Mulch is a protective layer of material that is spread over the soil’s surface. It can be organic, made from bark, wood chips, compost, and even aged manure. It can also be inorganic gravel or river rock.

Keep soil hydrated and stops weeds

Mulch significantly reduces the amount of evaporation taking place on the surface of the soil. With less evaporation, the soil can retain moisture longer. This means that plants will stay hydrated and you don’t have to water as often.

Mulch also prevents the surface of the soil from becoming compacted from water impact. Preventing soil compaction keeps your soil fluffy and able to absorb water to greater depths.

The benefits don’t stop there—mulch also prevents the growth of weeds. By blocking sunlight from reaching the soil, young weeds cannot receive enough light to produce the sugars they need to grow. Before using a chemical weed killer, try mulch.

Mulch does all of this while also encouraging strong plant root systems, keeping soil cool, improving soil structure and, in the case of compost mulch, adding nutrients. Not to mention, a layer of mulch on your garden just looks nice!

How much mulch should I use?

Spring is the perfect time to mulch your garden for maximum water conservation. Apply a layer of mulch onto the soil surface around your plants. A one- to two-inch layer is most effective with compost, leaves or sawdust. Two to four inches works best for bark or wood chips.

Learn more about saving water outdoors:

Water Bureau Offices Closed for Memorial Day on Monday, May 27

Portland Water Bureau logoIn observance of the Memorial Day holiday, Portland Water Bureau offices will be closed on Monday, May 27.

Offices will reopen on Tuesday, May 28, 2019 at 8 a.m. The Customer Service Call Center will reopen at 8 a.m. The Customer Service Walk In Center will reopen at 7:30 a.m.

How to Pay Your Utility Bill

During the holiday, Water Bureau customers can pay their bill in the following ways:

  • Online: Click here
  • Phone: Pay by phone by dialing 503-823-7770 and pressing 1
  • Drop off: Leave a payment in the Water Bureau's drop box located at 111 SW Columbia St. (at the corner of SW 1st Ave. and SW Columbia St).

Water Emergency Hotline

To report a water system emergency, contact the 24/7 Emergency Hotline at 503-823-4874.

May 16, 2019: Cryptosporidium Monitoring Update

The Portland Water Bureau received results from ongoing monitoring from the Bull Run Watershed intake for Cryptosporidium, a potentially disease-causing microorganism. One Cryptosporidium oocyst was detected in the 50-liters sampled on Sunday, May 12. Prior to this detection, Cryptosporidium was last detected from the Bull Run Watershed intake on April 29, when one oocyst was detected from the 50-liters sampled.

The bureau continues to use the Bull Run as its primary source of drinking water. The Portland Water Bureau does not currently treat for Cryptosporidium, but is required to do so under the drinking water regulations. Portland is working to install filtration by September 2027 under a compliance schedule with Oregon Health Authority. In the meantime, Portland Water Bureau is implementing interim measures such as watershed protection and additional monitoring to protect public health. Consultation with public health officials has concluded that at this time, customers do not need to take any additional precautions.

About Cryptosporidium

Exposure to Cryptosporidium can cause cryptosporidiosis, a serious illness. Symptoms can include diarrhea, vomiting, fever and stomach pain. People with healthy immune systems recover without medical treatment. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), people with severely weakened immune systems are at risk for more serious disease. Symptoms may be more severe and could lead to serious or life-threatening illness. Examples of people with weakened immune systems include those with AIDS; those with inherited diseases that affect the immune system; and cancer and transplant patients who are taking certain immunosuppressive drugs.

The Environmental Protection Agency has estimated that a small percentage of the population could experience gastro-intestinal illness from Cryptosporidium and advises that customers who are immunocompromised and receive their drinking water from the Bull Run Watershed consult with their healthcare professional about the safety of drinking the tap water. The Portland Water Bureau and Burlington, City of Gresham, City of Sandy, City of Tualatin, Green Valley, GNR, Hideaway Hills, Lake Grove, Lorna Portland Water, Lusted, Palatine Hill, Pleasant Home, Raleigh, Rockwood, Skyview Acres, Tualatin Valley, Two Rivers, Valley View and West Slope Water Districts receive all or part of their drinking water supply from the Bull Run. To learn if your drinking water comes from Bull Run, please contact your local drinking water provider.

More Information

The public and the media are encouraged to view all sampling results posted to the

City’s website at portlandoregon.gov/water/cryptoresults. The bureau will notify the media and public immediately should further test results indicate a risk to public health and precautions are necessary.

Customers with questions regarding water quality can call the Water Line at 503-823-7525.