A safe and resilient water system is vital to prepare and recover from disasters and emergencies

Blog Post
National Preparedness Month spotlights what firefighters like Lisa Knight see every day—being prepared saves lives. Making our water system more resilient with the Bull Run Treatment Projects is one of the ways the Water Bureau is looking ahead to prepare and protect our community.
Firefighter Lisa Knight knows how essential having a resilient water supply is for saving lives before, during and after emergencies and natural disasters. 

September is National Preparedness Month to raise awareness about preparing for disasters and emergencies that could happen at any time. One of the ways we’re preparing is by making our water system more resilient with the Bull Run Filtration Project. Access to good, clean water is vital for life after a catastrophic event. Just ask Lisa Knight. She knows this first hand.  

As a firefighter for almost 20 years, Lisa’s main job is fighting structural fires in Portland. She’s also certified and trained to fight wildland fires. She’s put this training to good use here in Portland and beyond. For example, she lent a hand with the firefighting efforts in neighboring communities during the historic wildfires that ravaged Oregon in 2020. She’s also taken her skills as a first responder around the globe, volunteering in places like Nepal and Haiti to help with recovery efforts after massive earthquakes. 

These experiences have given her a deep appreciation for clean water and how essential it is for basic sanitation, personal hygiene, and the health of people as they get back on their feet after devastating events.  “Clean water is so vital after a natural disaster,” Lisa says. “If you are adding one more thing that could go wrong, or hurt people, or get people sick, you’re not really effective in your ability to help them in recovery.”

One of the key objectives of the Bull Run Filtration Project is to prepare our community for natural disasters by making our water system more resilient. The new filtration facility and associated pipelines will be built to modern seismic criteria and when complete, filtration will increase our ability to use water from Bull Run more quickly after a fire, large storm, or landslide. Lisa personally agrees with many experts who anticipate that climate change will create hotter, drier summers and increase wildfire risk in our region, and we need to be prepared. “Fire spreads fairly rapidly and time is of essence. You want to have water close to you where you need it.”