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Most City of Portland offices will be closed Monday, May 27, in observance of Memorial Day.

Portland Water Bureau monitoring spread of Camp Creek Fire. Portland’s drinking water remains safe.

News Article
August 28, 2023 update on the Camp Creek Fire.
Published

The Portland Water Bureau continues to monitor the spread of the Camp Creek Fire burning in the Bull Run Watershed, which is estimated to be 1,607 acres and zero percent contained as of the evening of August 27.  The fire is approximately 1.3 miles from Reservoir 1 and approximately 2.1 miles from the Water Bureau’s Headworks treatment facility.  

Weather forecasts predict that conditions will remain favorable in the next several days. . However, fire in the watershed always poses a risk to our water supply, and weather conditions can change quickly. We continue to work closely with fire agencies to monitor the threat levels to our staff and infrastructure. We’re developing multiple contingency plans, so we are prepared in the event we are forced to evacuate staff from the watershed. 

An evacuation would require us to switch off the Bull Run supply and rely entirely on groundwater. Our groundwater source is safe and strong, but it doesn’t provide enough water for summertime uses, like watering yards and washing cars. If needed, we may ask customers to help by using less water, reducing outdoor water usage and other non-essential uses. We’re constantly evaluating the situation and will keep you updated as the situation evolves. 

“We take our responsibilities to deliver safe drinking water to our community and protect our staff very seriously,” said Gabriel Solmer, Water Bureau Director. “We continue to closely monitor the situation, and we are preparing for a variety of possible outcomes, including in a scenario in which we need to evacuate the watershed for employee safety.” 

The Portland Water Bureau (PWB) continues to monitor water quality and has yet to see any fire-related impacts.  

Fire retardants were used in limited areas during the initial attack on Friday, August 25, to support fire suppression efforts and protect the Bull Run Watershed. Fire retardants may be used again to support firefighting efforts. Retardant will not be used in defined exclusion zones that drain into the Bull Run Reservoirs to protect water quality. The Portland Water Bureau will continue to monitor for potential impacts to water quality.  

The Portland Water Bureau has been working closely with the agencies in charge of fighting these fires since first alerted to the blaze. The U.S. Forest Service, Oregon Department of Forestry (ODF), and local fire response agencies are on the scene and have activated a ground crew and aerial resources, including helicopters and water-scooper aircraft, to combat the fire. The Portland Water Bureau does not have a direct firefighting role but provides critical information about the watershed, PWB facilities and operations to support the Forest Service in their response in the area.   

The Water Bureau will continue to make periodic updates to keep the public informed.   

What you can do  

No water restrictions are in place currently. If we need to reduce water use, we will ask that all Portland Water Bureau users and customers limit outdoor water uses, especially for watering lawns and gardens, and reduce indoor water use when possible.  

While the fire does not immediately threaten Portland’s water supply, it is important to stay informed, be prepared for emergencies and stay clear of the area to ensure access for emergency responders.   

Follow the Water Bureau on X (Twitter) and Facebook, and visit our website, Portland.gov/water, for the latest information about water quality and supply, updates related to this incident and other Water-related news.   

Information about emergency water storage is available in multiple languages on the Regional Water Providers Consortium website.   

Water Bureau will continue to rely on two water sources  

On Thursday, Aug. 24, we activated our groundwater supply to augment the Bull Run during this extended hot and dry summer. At this time, the bureau will continue to rely on a blend of water from the Bull Run Watershed and our groundwater source, the Columbia South Shore Well Field.  

About the Portland Water Bureau  

The Portland Water Bureau serves water to almost a million people in the Portland area. Portland’s water system includes two great water sources, 53 tanks and reservoirs, and 2,200 miles of pipes. With 600 employees working on everything from water treatment to customer service, the Water Bureau is committed to serving excellent water every minute of every day.