Water Leak Repair Program Stories: Suzanne

Blog Post
Close up shot of a set of wooden and dirt stairs with a stream of muddy water rushing down them
Learn how we helped Suzanne of Northeast Portland fix her large underground leak of over 3,000 gallons of water per day through our Water Leak Repair Program.
In this article
A man crouching over an open water meter taking a picture of the inside
Geoff Fey from the Community Energy Project (CEP) checks a water meter.

Since 1998, Portland Water Bureau’s Water Leak Repair Program has been fixing leaks in homes across Portland. The program provides funding to repair leaking fixtures and pipes—from a leaking toilet to a leaking underground water service line. Fixing water leaks can lower water bills, improve livability, help individuals stay in their homes, and conserve water! 

The program began as a partnership with Multnomah County. Last year, we added two nonprofit partners: the Community Energy Project (CEP) and African American Alliance for Homeownership (AAAH). These organizations work with local plumbers to coordinate repairs and provide excellent service.  

Read on to learn how AAAH helped Suzanne repair a severe underground leak. 

Repairing Suzanne’s underground leak 

Suzanne of Northeast Portland had a large underground leak of over 3,000 gallons of water per day that was repaired through the program. 

Close up shot of a set of wooden and dirt stairs with a stream of muddy water rushing down them
An example of what a large underground leak can look like above ground.

Suzanne initially noticed water running down the sidewalk in August 2021. At first, she thought it could be from a neighbor’s sprinkler. It soon became clear that there was a larger problem.   

One of the Water Leak Repair Program partner organizations, the African American Alliance for Homeownership (AAAH), coordinated Suzanne’s repairs. Suzanne’s home needed to be electrically regrounded before the plumbing repairs could begin. After the home was regrounded and passed the city inspection, the plumbers could finally begin working on the underground water line. 

Having an underground leak was incredibly stressful for Suzanne. She worried about the leak damaging her property and felt overwhelmed by the inflated sewer/stormwater/water bills. This was the first time Suzanne had experienced anything like this underground leak in her almost fifty years of living in her home in Portland.  

Despite delays, the plumber was finally able to replace Suzanne’s service line in February 2022. After a long repair process, Suzanne could finally breathe a sigh of relief.  

Now that the service line leak is fixed, Suzanne’s water usage—and bills—are low once again. She is looking forward to a lovely summer. Suzanne anticipates spending time weeding and pruning in her yard, a good blackberry crop, and making fresh jam. To others experiencing a leak, Suzanne advises them not to be afraid to ask for help. “Don’t wait!” she says. 

How to get help with leaks 

Last year, the program served 108 homeowners. Applicants came to the program from all parts of Portland, representing a wide range of ages, ethnic/racial and gender identities, and ten languages spoken or preferred.  

If you have a water leak, apply today for the Water Leak Repair Program! All homeowners who receive water from the Portland Water Bureau and are enrolled in the Financial Assistance program or are income qualified are eligible to apply. If you have questions about your eligibility, call 503-823-4527 or email conserve@portlandoregon.gov.