Portland Water Bureau
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News Releases
Water Bureau Seeking Public Comment on Code Updates: Updating laws that guide us for the benefit of our customers and the community - 07/10/20

Title 21 is a set of codes that guide our work at the Portland Water Bureau. These codes inform the rules and laws that direct our operations and define the roles and responsibilities of staff who deliver water to nearly a million people in the Portland area.

During this recent review process, we have revised outdated provisions and added Charter changes resulting from ballot measures approved by voters in November 2019.

“We know that our community cares about how we operate your water system,” said Water Bureau Chief Engineer Teresa Elliott. “We’ve spent the past two years reviewing laws that oversee our operations to be sure they are current, consistent and in line with our shared values.”

This revision process has improved Title 21 by:

  • Redefining the authority of the Chief Engineer to plan and maintain our water system.
  • Clarifying the cost sharing process for main extensions and service installations, including clarity for construction and maintenance responsibilities related to water infrastructure serving private property.
  • Clarifying the terms for compliance and inspection of backflow prevention assembly—a system that prevents water from flowing from private property back into the public water system.
  • Deferring to the annual rates ordinance as the forum for setting rates and charges, while also providing potential support for renters by assigning billing responsibility to property owners.
  • Providing additional environmental protections by adding details that voters approved by Charter Amendment in November 2019. For work performed in the Bull Run Watershed, Title 21 now includes rules about riparian protection, stream crossings, wet weather construction, and fire prevention.
  • Adding language from the November 2019 Charter Amendment allowing the Water Bureau to help other communities—and vice versa—during an emergency or natural disaster.

For more information and to read the revised Title 21 document, click here. Translations are available in Spanish, Russian, Vietnamese and simplified Chinese. The full Title 21 package is available for translation upon request. To submit public comment or feedback specifically related to these revisions, please email isa.cesare@portlandoregon.gov">marisa.cesare@portlandoregon.gov by 5 p.m. Aug. 14.


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.


Cryptosporidium Monitoring Update Detections from routine monitoring in the Bull Run. Customers do not need to take any additional precautions at this time. - 07/10/20

Since 2017, the Portland Water Bureau has detected low levels of Cryptosporidium from routine monitoring. 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 collected on Sunday July 5. Prior to this detection, Cryptosporidium was last detected from the Bull Run Watershed intake on April 28, 2020, when two oocysts were detected from the 50-liters sampled.

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 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 (EPA) 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 the 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 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.

Applications Open Tomorrow for $1 Million in One-Time Utility Bill Credits for Small Businesses Affected by COVID-19 (Photo) - 07/07/20

PORTLAND, OR – Applications open Wednesday, July 8, for the Small Business Program for Utility Relief (SPUR), designed to help small businesses with their City of Portland sewer, stormwater, and water bill during the ongoing public health and economic crisis.

PLEASE NOTE: The application deadline is July 22. No applications will be accepted after this date.

SPUR: Small Business Program for Utility Relief

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 200 and 300 small businesses and will range between $1,000 and $10,000. The City of Portland utility bureaus partnered with Prosper Portland, the city’s economic development agency, to develop for a program for providing relief to impacted businesses. SPUR builds on the work done for Prosper Portland’s Small Business Relief Fund which provides relief for small businesses affected by the pandemic economic and public health emergency.

Small businesses are invited to apply beginning Wednesday, July 8, through July 22 at portlandoregon.gov/water/smallbiz.

  • The application is simple.
  • Applications will be prioritized using a racial equity and vulnerability lens.
  • Applications will not be evaluated on a first-come, first-served basis, but the July 22 closing date is a hard deadline for application submission.
  • Applications are available in English, Spanish, Vietnamese, Chinese, and Russian. Interpreters are available for those who would like support in other languages. Call 503-823-7770 to request an interpreter.

The City of Portland utility bureaus are prioritizing businesses owned by Black, Indigenous, and all People of Color (BIPOC) and women to direct dollars to traditionally underserved businesses. Recognizing that the BIPOC community is disproportionally affected by the pandemic, the City of Portland is dedicating SPUR resources toward these small business owners.

A selection committee is made up of representatives from the following: Council for Economic and Racial Equity; Portland Utility Board; Oregon Native American Chamber; Philippine American Chamber of Commerce of Oregon; Black American Chamber; Hispanic Metropolitan Chamber of Oregon; Asian Pacific American Chamber of Commerce; Bureau of Environmental Services; and Commissioner Fritz's office.

“The SPUR program invests in our beloved small businesses that embody the very character of our city, so they can recover and continue to serve the community,” said Water Bureau Director Mike Stuhr. “By investing in small businesses today, the utilities are also helping to ensure that these ratepayers can continue to invest in our sewer, stormwater and water infrastructure for decades to come.”

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 suspended late fees, collections and water shut-offs on accounts with past-due balances.

The SPUR application is available at portlandoregon.gov/water/smallbiz. If you have questions about the program or the application, email SmallBiz@portlandoregon.gov or contact City Customer Service staff at 503-823-7770. Limited staffing may result in longer response time.

A representative from the Water Bureau is available for Skype interviews. To schedule, please call the PIO Phone at 503-823-8064.



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.


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.