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News Releases
Work on Sellwood Water System Impacts Southeast Tacoma Street in August (Photo) - 08/04/22

PORTLAND, OR --- Portland Water Bureau contractors are temporarily closing one lane of traffic on SE Tacoma Street at SE 19th Avenue on weekdays from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. for up to a week starting August 9, 2022. There will be additional closures at this intersection throughout the summer and fall.

SE Tacoma is a primary route for drivers traveling though the Sellwood neighborhood to access McLoughlin Blvd./Oregon 99E and the Sellwood Bridge. Drivers hoping to access the west side may consider using the Ross Island Bridge as an alternate route to and from McLoughlin/99E.

The lane closures will allow crews to replace an aging water main (pipe), improving water quality and reliability in Sellwood. Impacts to sidewalks, bicycle routes and vehicle routes will change during the various phases of work on this project. The traveling public should stay alert and follow instructions from signage and flaggers.

Traffic impacts

  • Southeast Tacoma Street: Traffic will be limited to one lane. Some parking will be removed for the duration of construction to make room for work to take place.
  • Southeast 19th Avenue between Southeast Tenino and Southeast Spokane: Traffic will be detoured one block east or west at Southeast Tenino and Southeast Spokane Streets.
  • Sidewalk access: Sidewalks on Southeast 19th Avenue will remain open. People traveling along Southeast Tacoma Street will be detoured to the opposite side of the intersection from where construction is taking place at Southeast 19th Avenue. 
  • Bicycle access: This work will impact bicycle travel on the Southeast 19th Avenue Greenway. In some cases, people cycling on SE 19th Avenue will be detoured one block east or west. Other times, cyclists will be diverted onto the sidewalk. Reader board displays and signage will direct people to the safest route.
  • TriMet: No bus line stops will be impacted, but travelers should plan for delays. 

What to expect

  • Please allow extra travel time and respect work zone safety cones, detours, and flaggers.
  • No homes or businesses are expected to be out of water service because of this work.
  • The traveling public is reminded to stay alert and use caution as traffic may suddenly slow or stop. 
  • To avoid traffic delays, motorists are encouraged to use alternate routes around the work site.

About the SE 19th and Lambert Water Main Replacement Project

As part of our ongoing investment in southeast Portland’s water supply, the Water Bureau is replacing 4,800 feet—just under a mile—of an aging water main (pipe) along SE Lambert Street and SE 19th Avenue. The existing main was installed in 1927 and has had six breaks over the past decade. The new pipe will reduce the frequency of breaks and improve water quality. Learn more and sign up for project updates: portland.gov/water/lambert19.

About the Portland Water Bureau

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.

Groundwater: Here When We Need It. Portland Water Bureau to Begin Annual Groundwater Maintenance Run - 08/02/22

Starting today, Aug. 2, the Portland Water Bureau will begin blending a portion of water from its Columbia South Shore Well Field with water from the Bull Run Watershed as an annual maintenance operation. The purpose of a maintenance run is to ensure that the groundwater system is in good working order and here when we need it. Our groundwater supply is instrumental in meeting the public’s drinking water needs should we have a long, dry summer, or any unplanned emergency events that impact the Bull Run such as wildfire or a landslide.

This maintenance run is a part of our annual supply planning. Each year, we develop a Seasonal Water Supply Plan for Portland's water system. This plan evaluates the availability of water from the Bull Run Watershed and our groundwater source, projected weather forecasts, and water demands. Between careful management and the region's strong conservation efforts, we are prepared to meet the range of potential water supply and demand conditions that could occur in Portland this season.

During the groundwater maintenance run, the Portland Water Bureau will operate the well field for approximately 10 hours a day, Monday through Friday, for approximately 25 days. The Portland Water Bureau anticipates returning to 100 percent Bull Run water upon completion. It can take up to two weeks, depending on location, for the blended water to make its way through the distribution system to all homes and businesses. 

“Thanks to careful planning and investment, Portland has access to two excellent water sources, the Bull Run and groundwater,” said Portland Water Bureau Director Gabriel Solmer. “Ensuring groundwater is prepared gives us confidence that we will have enough water for everyone in Portland through this dry season ahead.”

The Columbia South Shore Well Field is a high-quality water supply that meets or surpasses all federal and state drinking water regulations.

The city’s groundwater supply is a complex system of groundwater wells, pumps, treatment systems, electronic controls, and other equipment that must be operated regularly to identify maintenance needs. By doing maintenance activations routinely, the bureau ensures the reliability of the system when needed, either in an emergency or to meet seasonal supply needs.

The Portland Water Bureau informs the media and sensitive water users, as a practice, when it activates groundwater and when it has significant operational changes. We will issue a notification when we return to 100 percent Bull Run water. Sensitive water users can sign up to be directly notified by the Portland Water Bureau at portlandoregon.gov/water/notification.

Customers with questions should call the Water Line at 503-823-7525. For information on Water Bureau operations and summer supply updates visit portland.gov/water.

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.

Federally Funded Program Provides $2.6 million in Relief for Local Sewer/Stormwater/Water Utility Bills (Photo) - 07/18/22

Two years into the pandemic, approximately 12,000 Portland households that receive a sewer/stormwater/water bill have fallen behind on their payments. The city’s utility bureaus have made many caring and compassionate changes to meet our community’s needs during the pandemic. One example is using funding from a federal grant to create the Afloat: Utility Debt Relief program, which helped more than 2,000 households in our community get payments back on track. All eligible applications—2,004 accounts—received funding. The average credit was $1,336, depending on need.

About Afloat debt relief

The Portland Water Bureau and the Bureau of Environmental Services used funding from the American Rescue Plan Act to give bill credits to qualifying households with debt related to the COVID-19 pandemic. The program was developed with the African American Alliance for Homeownership, the Immigrant and Refugee Community Organization, the Native American Youth and Family Center (NAYA), and Verde.

“Water is life. Afloat brought not just drinking water to those who can’t afford it, it brought life to those who deserve to live,” said Josh Groesz, Housing and Stabilization Services Director at NAYA. 

“Portland was experiencing an affordability crisis before the pandemic brought additional financial, mental, and emotional stress,” said Portland Water Bureau Director Gabriel Solmer. “This program is another way the utility bureaus can make a difference to households struggling to recover.” 

"In a time of crisis, it’s important that we act decisively to deliver relief to Portlanders who are struggling to pay their bills,” said Commissioner Mingus Mapps. “I’m proud of the Water Bureau for leading this work, in collaboration with some of our essential community partners to provide relief to our community."

The $2.6 million in funding for the Afloat: Utility Debt Relief program comes from the federal American Rescue Plan Act. The City of Portland applied for this funding to meet many needs across the city; relieving utility bill debt is just one part of a broader program.

  • Of the 2,601 applications, 79 were submitted using our translated applications in Spanish, Russian, Vietnamese, and Chinese. Eligibility guidelines found here.
  • 47 percent of applicants identified as Black, Indigenous, People of Color (BIPOC) (42 percent White and 11 percent I prefer not to say).
  • 57 percent of applicants identified as women.
  • 19 percent of applicants identified as living with a disability.

We continue to look for ways to support our customers’ recovery from the pandemic. Please call our customer service team to learn about options for getting your bill back on track. We offer long-term, interest-free payment arrangements for any customer who’s having trouble paying their bill, plus a bill discount and crisis voucher for people who qualify. Call 503-823-7770 for options or visit portland.gov/water/water-financial-assistance.

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.

This project is funded by the American Rescue Plan, a federal economic stimulus bill designed to help communities recover from the COVID-19 pandemic and economic recession. The City of Portland is receiving $208 million of local recovery funds. Investments focus on three key priorities: houselessness response and household stabilization, business and commercial district stabilization, and community health and safety. For more information, go to portland.gov/united/american-rescue-plan.

Cryptosporidium Monitoring Update: Detections from routine monitoring in the Bull Run; Customers do not need to take any additional precautions at this time - 07/15/22

Since 2017, the Portland Water Bureau has detected low levels of Cryptosporidium from routine monitoring of source water. The Portland Water Bureau received results from ongoing monitoring from the Bull Run Watershed intake for Cryptosporidium, a potentially disease-causing microorganism. In the 50 liters sampled July 10, July 12 and July 13, one Cryptosporidium oocyst was detected in the sample collected on July 10. Cryptosporidium was not detected in the samples collected on July 12 or July 13. Prior to these detections, Cryptosporidium was last detected from the Bull Run Watershed intake on June 26, 2022.

The Bull Run watershed is Portland’s primary source of drinking water. The Portland Water Bureau does not currently treat for Cryptosporidium, but is required to do so under drinking water regulations. Portland is working to install filtration by September 2027 under a compliance schedule with the 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. 

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 Domestic 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 Bull Run. To learn if your drinking water comes from Bull Run, please contact your local drinking water provider.

The public and the media are encouraged to view all sampling results posted to the City’s website at portland.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 Quality Line at 503-823-7525.

Attached Media Files: MEDIA_RELEASE_07_15_22.docx