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Chapter 21.08 Water Main

City Code Chapter

21.08.010 Location of Main.

A.  Where a water main may be installed. A water main may be installed in public rights-of-way or easements.

B.  Water main in easements. The Chief Engineer may authorize water main installation in an easement if the following conditions are met:

1.  The easement is at least 20 feet wide (for a main that is 12 inches or less in diameter) and the outer edge of the main is a minimum of 6 feet from the nearest edge of the easement. Easements for a larger main must be reviewed individually and must be at least 30 feet wide, and the outer edge of the main must be a minimum of 12 feet from the nearest edge of the easement and any structure;

2.  The edge of the easement is at least 2 feet from the property-side meter stop;

3.  Any trees proposed to be planted in the water easement must provide a minimum separation at maturity of 10 feet and may only be planted along the outer edge of the easement;

4.  There is no parking or structures allowed on or over the easement where the water main is to be placed;

5.  The new water main is at least 50 feet long;

6.  The easement extends a minimum of 8 feet beyond fire hydrants, 5 feet beyond the end of the main and 2 feet beyond services that are 1 inch in diameter or smaller; and

7.  The Portland Water Bureau may have 24-hour unobstructed access to all parts of the easement main and appurtenances installed to support the main system.

The Chief Engineer may authorize additional requirements or exceptions to these rules.

C.  A water main must extend at least 5 feet past either the closest property line or the location of the proposed service, whichever is farther.

D.  The Chief Engineer may determine that the existing main is not close enough, large enough or in the wrong location to serve a property or development. If that happens, the applicant requesting new service may apply for the main to be built or improved.

The applicant must pre-pay the Portland Water Bureau to build the new main or make the existing main larger. The Portland Water Bureau determines how much this costs, based on the site and the Annual Rates Ordinance. To estimate the cost, the Portland Water Bureau will determine the most direct route through a public right-of-way or approved easement.

E.  The Portland Water Bureau will determine main size, type and route based on long-term system needs.

The applicant must pay for the size and route specified by the Portland Water Bureau. The applicant must pay for a main large enough to meet their demand, or a main that is at least 6 inches in diameter.

If the Portland Water Bureau chooses to install a larger main than the project requires, chooses an alternate route for the main, or chooses to install other improvements at the same time, the Portland Water Bureau will pay the extra costs.

F.  The Chief Engineer will establish, maintain and enforce engineering and technical standards to plan, design, construct, operate, maintain and protect all of the City’s public drinking water system, related infrastructures and assets.

21.08.020 Main Extensions Inside City and Cost Sharing.

(Amended by Ordinance No. 190811, effective June 10, 2022.)

A.  The Portland Water Bureau is responsible for designing and building a water main in the right-of-way. The Portland Water Bureau is the only authorized entity that can connect to and operate the live public water system.

B.  The Portland Water Bureau may adopt rules about how it may share installation costs with applicants. Cost sharing may apply to new or improved water mains, main extensions, fire hydrants, services, and other water infrastructure.

At most, the Portland Water Bureau may pay 50 percent of the total project cost.

The Administrator will consider the following when developing cost sharing policies:

1.  Public and private benefit derived from proposed privately financed water system improvements;

2.  Rate impacts; and;

3.  Availability of Portland Water Bureau funds.

C.  Cost sharing in this Section does not apply to those projects:

1.  Managed by City and other government agencies;

2.  In newly paved streets under 5-year moratorium;

3.  In state or county roadways;

4.  In highways or freeways;

5.  That cross rail facilities, or are in streets affected by rail facilities; or,

6.  In cobblestone, Belgian block pavement, or non-City standard paving material.

7.  Subdivisions or Developer-built mains

Other exceptions may be determined by the Administrator.  Cost sharing for public water improvements or relocation of portions of the water system that are covered in other regulations and policies, are not addressed in this Section.

21.08.040 Main Outside the City.

Any applicant requesting a main extension outside the City may apply in writing for construction of a water main. The Chief Engineer may approve the main extension if the request does not unreasonably impair water supply or pressure to existing services, whether inside or outside the City, and may not be reasonably provided water service through any other water supplier.

The Chief Engineer will determine if the water main extension is to be designed and constructed by the City, or if permission is to be granted for private design and construction of the main. If privately constructed, the work must conform to Portland Water Bureau specifications and standards as provided in Section 21.08.010. Upon Portland Water Bureau inspection and acceptance of the new water main, the Portland Water Bureau will connect it to the existing water system. After acceptance by the Portland Water Bureau, the water main extension will become the property of the City.

If the Portland Water Bureau decides to construct the main extension, the applicant must prepay the Portland Water Bureau the estimated cost prior to construction. The cost includes any bond, permits or other security required by any subdivision of government having jurisdiction over the location of the main extension. If the actual cost, including overhead expenses computed in accordance with the provisions of the finance regulations of Portland City Code, exceeds the amount prepaid, the applicant must pay the difference to the Portland Water Bureau. If the actual cost is less than the amount prepaid by the applicant, the difference must be refunded. When the applicant requests a set price for such installation, the Portland Water Bureau will establish a price based on the estimated cost. After a set price has been established, no refunds or additional charges for the installation will be made except in those cases where the applicant requests changes to the design or construction and a new fee statement is issued.

Application for connection of property outside the Portland City limits to the City water main or main extension will be deemed a covenant that the applicant must comply with all provisions of Title 21 of Portland City Code and the rules and regulations of the Portland Water Bureau.

21.08.050 Adequate Main Before Street or Other Public Improvement.

The Chief Engineer may require that water main, backflow protection assemblies and other water system parts are installed, relocated or protected before public improvement is built.

Backflow protection assemblies must be installed before new services may connect to the water main.  Refer to Section 21.12.320 for additional backflow requirements.

21.08.060 Installation of Adequate Distribution Main Inside the City.

Requesting a larger main. Sometimes an existing main is not large enough to accommodate a new service. If an applicant requests a new residential service 1 inch or smaller and there is not enough water capacity because the main is 4 inches or smaller, the applicant must wait until the City enlarges the main.

The applicant may also request that the City enlarge the main sooner. Upon review of the project, the Chief Engineer may grant the request.  The applicant and the City must share the costs for enlarging the main. The Annual Rates Ordinance lists the costs the City must pay.

21.08.070 Portland City Council Authorization for Laying Water Main and Other Water Improvements.

A.  The Portland City Council or its administrative officers may authorize the City to spend money on the water system. They may authorize money for projects the Chief Engineer and Administrator deem necessary, helpful or convenient.  The money authorized to spend on the water system may pay the cost of the water improvements. This does not mean the City will always pay the entire cost of installing a new main if any portion of the work is eligible for payment or reimbursement under other regulations, codes or administrative rule.

B.  Projects may include the following:

1.  Pipelines or main, including making pipelines and main larger;

2.  Pipeline or main extensions;

3.  Interconnections;

4.  Pumps;

5.  Tanks and reservoirs;

6.  Dams; or,

7.  Other water system improvements or Portland Water Bureau assets.

C.  The City must pay for projects through the Water Construction Fund.

Upcoming and Recent Changes

Ordinance Number 190811

Effective Date

Ordinance Number 190228

Effective Date