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

News Article
August 30, 2023 update on the Camp Creek Fire.

The Portland Water Bureau continues to monitor the spread of the Camp Creek Fire burning in the Bull Run Watershed, the city’s main water supply. The fire is estimated to be 1,969 acres and zero percent contained based on field observation from the night of August 29. 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 stable conditions that are expected to keep fire growth manageable. 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 of further risk to staff and the water supply. 

“We’re so grateful that our water supply is currently safe, thanks to the efforts of our fire responders and our partners around the region” said Gabriel Solmer, Water Bureau Director. “If the fire puts the supply at risk, or if rain in the watershed brings a lot of sediment to the reservoirs, we may need to rely only on our limited groundwater. Groundwater is an excellent water source, but it cannot meet all of our current summer demand. Should we get to that position, we will ask for everyone’s help to reduce their water use.” 

The Portland Water Bureau continues to monitor water quality and has yet to see any fire-related impacts in our drinking water. 

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. Agencies deploying retardant are aware of the expectation to avoid 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, its facilities and its 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 

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.  

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. To ensure you get emergency messages quickly from public safety officials, sign up for email updates from PublicAlerts at publicalerts.org/signup. 

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 supply during the 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.