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Winter 2020–2021 bill insert

News Article
Want to know how to take care of your home plumbing? What to do if you live in a floodplain? Who you can call if you're having trouble paying your bill? It's all in this edition of your quarterly newsletter from the Portland Water Bureau and the Bureau of Environmental Services.

Taking care of your home plumbing

If you’ve ever seen a burst pipe or a flooded basement, you know how challenging water can be. Luckily, there’s a lot you can do to care for the sewer, stormwater, and water systems closest to you. See the tips below for ideas.

Simple drawing of people inside and outside a house. The drawing has numbers on it to reflect the tips in the text below.
Photo of a person wearing an orange vest. The person is using a rake to clear the drain of a green street planter.
  1. Use your water meter to check for leaks.
  2. Each year in late fall, turn off the water to your outdoor faucets. Leave the faucets in the open position in case the pipes freeze.
  3. Throw wipes in the garbage. Even if a wipe says it’s flushable, it’s not. Wipes clog sewer pipes.
  4. Keep your sewer pipes fat free. Learn good kitchen practices to keep fats, oils, and grease out of your pipes and sewer connection.
  5. Maintain your gutters and downspouts. Clear leaves and debris, and fix any bad connections or holes.
  6. Check drainage. Make sure water flows away from your foundation. If you have drainage issues, call 503-823-5858 for technical assistance and a potential site visit.
  7. Prepare for emergencies by storing extra drinking water and toilet supplies. Learn more about putting together your emergency kit.
  8. Know where your water shutoff valve is so that you can turn off the water if there’s a leak.
  9. Take care of your street’s drains. You can help prevent street flooding by raking the openings of green street planters or storm drains.

Having trouble paying your bill?

If you can’t pay your full bill, please send us an email or give us a call at 503-823-7770. We may be able to help you set up a payment arrangement or find out if you qualify for financial assistance. We haven’t disconnected services during the pandemic, but if you have past payments due, paying what you can now will help make your bill more manageable in the future. 

Do you live or work in a floodplain?

Check if your home or business is in a floodplain. Go to and enter your address. Click on Public Safety, then click on FEMA Special Flood Hazard Area.

  • Basic homeowners or renters insurance doesn’t cover flood damage. Call your insurance agent or visit the National Flood Insurance Program website to find out how to sign up for flood insurance.
  • Construction (including adding or moving soil) in the floodplain requires special permits. Before you build, call 503-823-6892 for more information.
  • Subscribe to the City’s public emergency notifications at or follow @publicalerts on Twitter.
  • Make an emergency plan with your family. If a flood is coming, shut off gas and electricity and move valuables upstairs or to upper cabinets.

Your water, even better

Photo of a lake with a small island in the middle and Mount Hood behind. The lake is surrounded by evergreen forest.

The Water Bureau is building two new water treatment facilities and new sections of pipelines. These projects will help us comply with the federal Safe Drinking Water Act.

  • The Improved Corrosion Control Treatment project will improve treatment for lead, which can seep into water from some household and business plumbing. This temporary treatment system will start working in 2022. We will incorporate a permanent corrosion control treatment technology into the filtration project.
  • The filtration project will allow us to filter Bull Run water for the first time, further protecting health, supporting our economy, and preparing us for the future. Filtration will be up and running in 2027.

Doggie dos and don'ts

Photo of a small, tan dog with big ears and a boopable nose holding a leash in its mouth. The dog looks like it's ready for a walk.

When you’re out for a walk, keep your pup on a leash and out of green street planters. Off-leash dogs can harm sensitive plants and wildlife habitat. A dog’s pee hurts the plants and the poop can carry harmful bacteria into our rivers and streams. Always clean up after your pet!