Skip to Main Content View Text-Only

Portland Water Bureau

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

Customer Service: 503-823-7770


More Contact Info

Subscribe to RSS feed

Most Recent

View More

Tell Us What You Think: Take the 5-Minute Filtration Survey

Take the Bull Run treatment survey

Last August, Portland City Council held a hearing to discuss options for compliance with a federal rule requiring water treatment for the parasite Cryptosporidium. City Council voted unanimously to direct the Water Bureau to begin planning for a water filtration facility.

Since then, the Water Bureau assembled a team that has started work on the planning for the 10-year filtration project.

And now our filtration team wants to hear from you – our customers.

We want to hear what matters to you about the quality of your drinking water and the value to consider in planning the filtration plant.

Share Your Thoughts: Take the 5-Minute Survey

To provide your thoughts, please take a few minutes now to complete the online survey at the link below.

Take the Treatment Survey

The survey results will provide valuable information to the City in making decisions on the filtration plant.

More About Bull Run Water Treatment

The Portland Water Bureau is planning for changes to how Bull Run water is treated.

While water from the Bull Run Watershed is considered some of the cleanest in the nation, it still requires treatment to meet federal standards and protect public health.

Over the next 10 years, the Portland Water Bureau will be making two major treatment changes to the Bull Run.

The first is enhanced corrosion control, which will be in place by April 2022. This will reduce the risk of lead and copper leaching from home plumbing by adjusting the pH, or corrosivity, in the water system. Learn more.   

In addition to enhanced corrosion control, the Portland Water Bureau will be installing a new filtration plant that will remove sediments and organisms such as Cryptosporidium that can cause illness. Learn more.

Your Toilet is Feeling Neglected. Here's What You Can Do About It.

Leaks in homes account for 1 trillion gallons of water loss nation-wide every year. Here’s what you can do when your home plumbing takes a leak.

Simple steps you can take to fix a water-wasting toilet

Toilets are misunderstood. Knowing the basics of how a toilet works, and how to fix it can help you save thousands of gallons every month!

If you’re unsure, don’t worry, you’re not alone in having some toilet anxiety. Google aggregated global “how to fix” searches and it turns out we search for how to fix toilets a lot. It’s the top “how to” search for fixture fix in North America!

We’ve got you covered on this one.

How to Find a Toilet Leak

Check your toilet for leaks twice a year. It’s easy!

Just grab some food coloring, lift the lid off your toilet tank, and add 10 drops of food coloring to the water in the tank. But don’t flush! Wait 15 minutes. If the dye color shows up in your toilet bowl, you have a leak. Don’t have food coloring around? Order a conservation kit and you’ll get a set of leak detection tablets that you can use instead.

Fix a Flapper in Five Easy Steps

Toilet tankIn the toilet, the flapper is really the magic behind the flush. This rubber or plastic part allows water to “flush” from the tank into the bowl and down the drain.

Flappers typically last about 5 years and are often the source of leaks when they no longer fully seal. You can repair or replace a flapper with these quick, easy steps. It’s fine to put your hands in the tank water, but you might want to wash well afterwards.

  1. Turn the water inlet shut-off valve clockwise to turn the water off.
  2. Flush the toilet to drain the tank.
  3. Check the flapper valve to make sure it is lining up with the valve seat. If needed, replacement flappers can easily be purchased at hardware stores and some large grocery stores. Take your old flapper with you to make sure you get one that fits.
  4. Attach the new flapper to notches on either side of the overflow tube base. Hook the chain in a position where it rests without pulling the flapper up (causing a leak) or hanging over the edge.
  5. After installing the new flapper valve, flush to test.

Replace your toilet for a rebate!

If repair isn’t the answer, that the Portland Water Bureau offers a $50* rebate to replace your old toilet with a water efficient model.  Lean more at:

*Single-family residential customers enrolled in the bill discount program are eligible for a $100 per toilet rebate.

Join Us March 20 at Pioneer Square to Find Out How to Stop a Water-Wasting Leak In Its Tracks

Learn how to spot and fix home plumbing leaks

Did you know...

Leaks can account for more than 10,000 gallons of wasted water in an average home every year?

That's the amount of water it takes to wash 270 loads of laundry.

Leaks can run, but they can't hide! Join the Portland Water Bureau at Pioneer Square tomorrow from 10am to 4pm to find how you can can stop water-wasting leak in your home.

Leak detectives from the Portland Water Bureau will be on hand to teach you how to fix simple toilet leaks and how much water can be saved by repairing leaky home plumbing.

When: Tuesday, March 20th
Time: 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Location: Pioneer Square

We'll see you there!

St. Patrick’s Day and The Many Uses of Dye Tablets

Add a Comment

St. Patrick’s Day is tomorrow and it's celebrated in many ways across the United States. From parades to dances to corned beef and cabbage, there’s one common thread that binds together any St. Paddy’s Day tradition: the color green.

Hulk-colored clothing. Chartreuse-hued cupcakes. Emerald-tinted beer. There’s never a lack of green-decorated or -dyed memorabilia to celebrate the Irish holiday, including green waterways.

Several U.S. cities get into the St. Paddy’s Day spirit by dyeing bodies of water green, something we at the Portland Water Bureau take special note off for reasons we are about to explain. To commemorate the upcoming Fix-A-Leak week, let’s take a look at a few of these cities and find out what dyeing water has to do with finding household leaks.

Chicago River dyed greenChicago

Chicago began dying the Chicago River green in 1962 after Mayor (?) Richard Daley noticed that the dye tablets used to detect leaks from plumbing gave water the perfect shade of Irish green. Since then, this tradition has grown to attract worldwide attention each year. At 9:15 a.m. on the day of the Chicago St. Patrick’s Day Parade, members of the local plumbers union hop aboard several boats on the Chicago River and begin the dyeing process.


Each year on St. Patrick’s Day, the City of Tampa, Florida, dyes the Hillsboro River green with an orange powder called “Bright Dyes,” a fluorescent “dye tracing product” which is also used to detect leaks from plumbing.

The river stays a bright green for just a few hours before the tide washes out the color.

Tweet of Indianapolis Greening of the Canal eventIndianapolis

In its 21st consecutive year, Indianapolis, Indiana, dyes a portion of its downtown canal green for the annual Greening of the Canal event which features live music and celebrity appearances. The City uses 10 gallons of concentrated liquid dye which colors the water for about two to four days.

Not Just for Dyeing Rivers Green

While no waterways are dyed green in Oregon for St. Patrick’s Day, we do use dye for another purpose: to detect leaky toilets.

How does this work? So glad you asked.

Place a dye tablet – or a few drops of food coloring – in your toilet tank. If the dye color leaks into the toilet bowl, you have a leak! Fixing leaks, which can be done at home, helps you to conserve water and save money on your water bill.

You may not be able to see a green waterway in Oregon on St. Patrick’s Day, but why not start your own annual leak-detecting custom this St. Patrick’s Day knowing you’re joining a proud history of American water conservation?

Find how you can save water and money, and how to order a Water Efficiency Kit, at

The Numbers Are In: Our Habitat Conservation Efforts are Working

Habitat Conservation in the Bull Run Watershed

Who calls the Bull Run Watershed home?

52 species of mammals
5 species of reptiles
16 species of amphibians
19 species of fish

The Bull Run Watershed, located in the Sandy River basin 25 miles from downtown Portland, is the main drinking supply for the City of Portland and many of the surrounding communities in the greater metro area.

Most of the watershed has a temperate rain forest climate, dominated by coniferous species such as Douglas-fir, western hemlock, western red cedar, and Pacific silver fir. It’s also home to a bounty of wildlife and fish – from pika to bobcats and salmon to salamanders.

Some fish species that call the watershed home are icons of the Pacific Northwest, like steelhead and coho salmon. They’re also listed as threatened species under the federal Endangered Species Act.

How Our Use of Bull Run Water Affects the Fish that Live There

Bull Run Dam 1Man-made structures built in dense forest environments, like the Bull Run Watershed, can disrupt the natural life cycles of the animals that call the forest home.

It’s no surprise then that the operation of Portland’s water supply system in the Bull Run affects the fish that live in the rivers of Bull Run: steelhead, Chinook salmon, and coho salmon.

Introducing: Dam 1 and Dam 2. The water supply system’s two dams block fish passage six miles up the Bull Run River while affecting stream flows and water temperatures downstream. The dams also block riverbed gravel from traveling into the lower Bull Run River, depriving these threatened fish of critical habitat for spawning.

To ease the effects on these fish caused by the dams, we developed the Bull Run Water Supply Habitat Conservation Plan. This plan allows us to operate the dams, which maintain the water supply for almost a million people, while restoring habitat for threatened aquatic wildlife. We’re aiming for a win-win.

And, after years of restoring fish habitat, the numbers have started coming in: our conservation efforts are working.

Restoring Vital Habitat: Logjams and Gravel

Logjam in streamThe Habitat Conservation Plan has the Water Bureau adjusting its usual water-supply activities to cool the river needed for threatened fish species, make sure there is enough water for fish, adding spawning gravel, and improving fish habitat throughout the Sandy River to offset habitat blocked by the dams.

Not only do fish need to get from one place to another, they need a safe space to spawn (read: lay eggs and make fish babies). So once per year, hundreds of tons of gravel are shot from the back of a truck into the Bull Run River.

The gravel settles into the river and creates vital spawning habitat for threatened fish. And the data show us that the surface area of gravel available to salmon and steelhead for spawning has more than tripled in the lower Bull Run River since we began adding it eight years ago. The water temperature in the river is also much cooler in the summer than it used to be.

And some fish numbers in the river are increasing. That’s great news, and a sign our efforts are paying off. Of course, we can’t claim full credit for this, because there are so many factors that affect fish numbers. But we’ve observed a definite increase in the number of steelhead juveniles (called smolts) leaving the Bull Run River for the ocean each year.

Chart illustrating that fish numbers are increasing in the lower Bull Run River

We’re also working with private landowners, Metro, and other regional organizations to provide access and to improve fish habitat throughout the Sandy River basin.

Fish ladders help salmon migrate in the Bull Run WatershedWe’ve replaced culverts and built fish ladders.

We’re also placing logs and rootwads into streams, which provide protective shelter for salmon and other aquatic wildlife. Juvenile salmon and steelhead find refuge in the pools under the large logs that are placed in the stream channels. And the data show us that fish habitat is starting to improve. Logjams are more common where the Water Bureau has worked, and they’re starting to collect more woody debris and allow gravel to settle in places where it used to get washed away. Restoring fish habitat is a slow process, so it could take many years before all of the Water Bureau’s objectives have been met.

What’s Next for Habitat Conservation in the Bull Run

Environmental specialist monitoring aquatic wildlifeWe still have plenty of work to do for the Habitat Conservation Plan.

Water supply operations will continue, but now our work will be done with a sharper eye towards minimizing impacts to fish and wildlife. Water temperatures and flow will be carefully managed and the lower Bull Run River will receive a dose of gravel every year, with some work still needing to be done to improve fish habitat in neighboring streams. And, of course, we will continue watching and measuring to be sure that the restoration benefits we’ve started will come to pass.