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 building a new filtration facility and pipelines to protect public health and comply with federal and state safe drinking water regulations. These 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 building 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 working towards 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 building 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 new water filtration facility and pipelines. 

Project Timeline

It takes about 10 years to plan, design, and build a project of this size. We're in the early phases of construction and working to deliver filtered Bull Run water beginning 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.

Graph showing project compliance deadlines and general durations for the project phases.
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 Complete (2020-2023)

Flyover of the filtration facility design that is currently being built and expected to be online in September 2027.

We designed the new water filtration facility and pipelines to be key components of a resilient water system. This includes a multi-barrier filtration treatment process to better protect against water quality risks from a fire or other natural disaster. We also took a holistic approach to sustainable design to improve reliability and optimize energy use at the new 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. The report described preliminary design of the facility, established water quality and level of service goals, and provided detailed narratives for each treatment process. The report also included design criteria for key disciplines, site utilization plans, and project implementation strategies. 
  • In October 2022, we submitted the final filtration construction plans and schedule to the Oregon Health Authority.
  • In November 2023, we received approval of our land use permits from both Multnomah and Clackamas counties. 

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. 
A rendering of the filtration facility showing layout of the buildings, landscaping, roads, and parking areas.

Construction Underway (2024-2028)

Photo of filtration site in June 2024 during construction showing excavated soils and the beginning of temporary roads.

We're in the initial phases of construction and working to have the new facilities substantially complete by September 2027. The water filtration facility and pipelines are being built using Construction Manager/General Contractor (CM/GC) delivery. The construction contracts include strong participation by equity contractors as well as commitments to diverse workforces. 

Key milestones include: 

  • In 2023, receiving approval of the first set of guaranteed maximum price agreements that allowed early work to begin, including ordering long-lead materials. 
  • In 2024, after receiving critical land use permit approvals, starting construction including improvements to allow safe access for construction traffic to the project site.   

Benefits of CM/GC delivery

  • Received 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.

Benefits of equity commitments

  • Helping to stimulate the local economy, address historical inequities, and ensure our workforce reflects the diversity of the communities we serve.
  • Construction includes $396 million in contracts with firms certified by the Certification Office for Business Inclusion and Diversity (COBID). 
  • Certified firms make up 26 percent of contracted work for the filtration facility and 34 percent for the pipelines with participation from 79 different minority-owned, women-owned, disadvantaged, or emerging small businesses.

Construction Updates: For information about current and upcoming 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 Filtration 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 being built 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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