About the Bull Run Filtration Project

Type treatment for the Filtration project with Bull Run Treatment Projects stacked on the left a thin line in the middle and Filtration on the right
The Portland Water Bureau is planning a new drinking water filtration facility and pipelines to comply with federal and state 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're 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 federal and state safe drinking water regulations and remove the disease-causing microorganism Cryptosporidium from our water supply.

3 icons for the Bull Run Treatment Project including a sparkling glass of water for our health, a stack of dollar bills for our economy, and a family for our future.

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 two major project compliance milestones with the Oregon Health Authority, and we're on track to meet the final milestone in 2027. 

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

Project Overview

The improvements we're planning will use filtration treatment to protect public health and remove sediment, organic material, and other potential contaminants from Bull Run water, providing consistent high-quality drinking water and making our water system more reliable. 

The project includes a new water filtration facility designed to filter 135 million gallons of water per day. We're also designing new seismically resilient pipelines to connect the facility to our existing water system and retire aging segments of existing pipeline.   

Aerial map showing location of project relative to local roadways.
Project map showing the location of the planned water filtration facility and pipelines. 

Project Timeline

It takes about 10 years to plan, design, and build a project of this size. We're currently in design and on track to begin delivering filtered Bull Run water by September 30, 2027, to meet our compliance schedule. We're 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 water filtration facility and pipelines.

Key milestones include: 

  • In 2018, Portland City Council identified the facility location and size, and the filtration technology best-suited for Portland's drinking water.
  • 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 November 2019, City Council approved Resolution 37460 which set priority values and expectations to guide project design and implementation.
  • In October 2020, we identified preferred routes for new pipelines to connect the facility to the existing water system.  

Design Underway (2020-2022)

Flyover of the Bull Run Filtration facility in design and expected to start construction in Fall 2023 and serving water September 2027.

We're designing the water filtration facility and pipelines to be key components of a resilient water system. This includes planning a multi-barrier filtration treatment process to better protect against water quality risks from a fire or other natural disaster and taking a holistic approach to sustainable design to improve reliability and optimize energy use of the planned facilities.  

Key milestones include:

  • In July 2021, we completed the first design milestone for the water filtration facility: The Filtration Facility Basis of Design Report. This report describes preliminary design of the facility, establishing water quality and level of service goals and providing detailed narratives for each treatment process. The report also includes design criteria for key disciplines, site utilization plans, and project implementation strategies. 
  • In September 2022, we submitted our land use application to Multnomah County. We plan to submit our land use application to Clackamas County later this year.
  • In 2022, the detailed designs for the facility and pipelines will be refined and further developed as design advances through the 60 percent and 90 percent milestones.
  • In October 2022, we submitted the final filtration construction plans and schedule to the Oregon Health Authority.

Benefits of treatment process

  • Removes Cryptosporidium and other potential disease-causing microorganisms from the Bull Run supply.
  • Helps address turbidity (suspended sediment in water) and other potential impacts to the water supply that could result from a fire, landslide, or other natural disaster.
  • Reduces regulated compounds that can cause cancer (disinfection byproducts) by removing organics in the water.

Benefits of sustainable design

  • Water filtration facility will use gravity flow, which is more reliable and energy-efficient than pumped systems. 
  • Use of low-carbon concrete is planned for facility process basins and structures to help reduce supply-chain greenhouse gas emissions.
  • Facility Administration Building is expected to have net-zero energy use.
  • Participating in a pilot program to identify local and regional market options for sustainably sourced construction wood products. 
  • Pursuing Envision certification for the facility, which provides a third-party framework for assessing sustainability, resilience, and equity in civil infrastructure.
  • Working with the Energy Trust of Oregon to identify other energy reduction opportunities. 

Construction Upcoming (2023-2028)

We expect construction to begin in 2023 and be substantially complete by September 2027. We'll have more details to share about construction activities and the schedule after we complete the designs. The water filtration facility and pipelines will be built using Construction Manager/General Contractor (CM/GC) delivery.

Benefits of CM/GC delivery

  • 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.
  • Regional Workforce 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 are 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 of 1.89 percent is locked in for the life of the loan​.
  • Repayment can begin in 2032 after customers are getting facility benefits.

We're committed to keeping water rates affordable by actively managing costs throughout the life of the project. We'll 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.

Project Location

The water filtration facility is planned on City property in eastern Multnomah County that was purchased back in the 1970s because of its proximity to our existing infrastructure and the site elevation. This location allows gravity flow of water from the Bull Run Watershed through the new filtration facility to our customers in the Portland region.

Map of the location of the filtration facility. Click image to go to open in Google Maps
Location of the planned filtration facility. Click image to go to open in Google Maps


Bull Run Treatment Projects

Bonita Oswald, Project Communications Coordinator


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