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About the Bull Run Filtration Project

The Portland Water Bureau is planning a new drinking water Filtration Facility and Pipelines to comply with state and federal safe drinking water regulations. These lasting improvements to the Bull Run water system will help keep our water safe and abundant for generations to come.
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Filtration Benefits

We are planning a new drinking water Filtration Facility and Pipelines to keep our water safe and abundant for the nearly one million people who depend on it today and for future generations. Bull Run Filtration is needed to comply with state and federal safe drinking water regulations and remove the disease-causing microorganism Cryptosporidium from our water supply.

Bull Run Filtration will benefit:  

  • Our Health: using proven treatment methods to deliver clean, safe drinking water to customers.
  • Our Economy: creating jobs building water infrastructure vital to local businesses, industry, and residents.
  • Our Future: enhancing our water system's resilience, reducing future risks, and better protecting customers.

Achieving Compliance

Image of a report cover with a stylized water system illustration.
The Project Definition Report documents key planning outcomes and was submitted to OHA as part of the first compliance milestone.  

We met the first of three major project compliance milestones with the Oregon Health Authority in 2020, and we are on track to meet the second milestone in 2022. 

  • Nov. 30, 2020 (completed): submit pilot study and preliminary planning 
  • Oct. 31, 2022: submit final construction plans and construction schedule
  • Sept. 30, 2027: water served meets surface water and Cryptosporidium treatment requirements

Project Overview

It takes about 10 years to plan, design, and build a project of this size. We are currently working on design and need to complete the project by Sept. 30, 2027, to meet our compliance schedule. We are committed to engaging with our community, gathering feedback, and keeping customers informed throughout the project. Check out our community outreach history and upcoming opportunities to get involved.

A chart showing the schedule of Bull Run Filtration Project phases to meet three key compliance milestones. The first date shown is December 2017 and the final date shown is September 2027.
Schedule for Bull Run Filtration Project showing key compliance milestones

Planning Complete (2018-2020)

We completed two years of planning work and community engagement to guide design of the Filtration Facility and Pipelines.

Preferred pipeline alternatives identified in Oct. 2020 for the Bull Run Filtration Project
Bull Filtration Facility site and Pipeline routes for the Bull Run Filtration Project.
  • In 2018, Portland City Council identified the facility location and size, and the filtration technology best-suited for Portland's drinking water:
    • Facility Location: The Facility will be located just outside the Bull Run Watershed in rural Multnomah County. We have owned the property for decades and have been operating facilities in the area for more than 100 years. The site was selected because it met all of the siting criteria, including considerations related to maximizing gravity flow, connecting to existing and future pipelines, having sufficient space and suitable geologic conditions for construction, and meeting the compliance schedule. 
    • Facility Size: The Facility will have a capacity of 145 million gallons per day to consistently meet projected water system demands. 
    • Filtration Technology: The Facility will use granular media filtration, where the water is filtered through natural materials such as charcoal, sand, or gravel. This is a proven technology widely used at filtration facilities nationwide to produce excellent water quality.  
  • In 2019, following those initial Council decisions, we completed extensive planning and engineering analysis to guide design of the Facility and Pipelines. This work is documented in the Project Definition Report
  • In Nov. 2019, City Council approved Resolution 37460 which set priority values and expectations to guide project design and implementation. The Recommended Option included:
    • Target Facility capacity of 145 million gallons per day. 
    • Conventional treatment, including flocculation, sedimentation, and filtration to best handle turbidity events. 
    • Ozone for enhanced water quality and protection from a wide range of current and future risks. 
    • Clearwell (on-site water storage) sized for operational flexibility. 
    • Two Pipelines to and from the Facility to maximize gravity flow, reduce future neighborhood impacts, and provide a more resilient, easier-to-maintain system.
  • In Oct. 2020, we identified preferred routes for new pipes that prioritize use of our existing easements and public rights-of-way where possible. 

Design Underway (2020-2022)

We are currently designing the new Facility and Pipelines, which is expected to take about two years. Throughout design, we will continue to share information about project progress and actively gather input from the community to inform project decisions. 

Construction Upcoming (2023-2027)

We expect construction to begin in 2023 and be substantially complete by Sept. 2027. We will have more details to share about construction activities and the schedule after we complete design. The Filtration Facility and Pipelines will be built using Construction Manager/General Contractor (CM/GC) delivery.

Benefits of CM/GC

  • Contractor input during design to identify the best construction methods and sequencing to help protect the environment, limit disruption to the community, and maintain continuous water delivery to our customers.
  • Quick start for construction to keep our compliance schedule on track.
  • Community Benefits Agreements that set contracting and workforce equity commitments.

Construction Updates: For information about current and upcoming field work, visit the Filtration Construction webpage

Project Funding  

These investments in the future of Portland’s drinking water will be funded through business and residential customer rates and by borrowing money over time. We secured long-term, low-cost federal financing through the Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (WIFIA) to help build the Bull Run Treatment Projects. The WIFIA loan will significantly reduce the cost to ratepayers while keeping the region’s water safe and abundant for generations to come. 

Benefits of WIFIA Loan 

  • Estimated to provide $247 million of debt-service savings over the loan term​
  • Low interest rate is fixed and locked in for the life of the loan​
  • Repayment can begin in 2032 after customers are getting facility benefits

We are committed to keeping water rates affordable by actively managing costs throughout the life of the project. We will continue to assist those who struggle to afford their bill through the expanded low-income assistance program. If you’re having trouble affording your bill, our Financial Assistance program may be able to help.