Table of Contents
Can You Drink Tap Water in Portland?
No, Portland's tap water is not safe to drink as it has an active health based violation of the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA). Other factors such as lead piping in a home, or low levels of pollutants on immunocompromised individuals, should also be considered, however. To find more recent info we might have, you can check out our boil water notice page, the city's water provider website, or Portland's local Twitter account.
According the EPA’s ECHO database, from April 30, 2019 to June 30, 2022, Portland's water utility, Portland Water Bureau, had 0 violations of the Safe Drinking Water Act. For more details on the violations, please see our violation history section below. The last violation for Portland was resolved on Sept. 30, 2013. There has been an active violation for Long Term 2 Enhanced Surface Water Treatment Rule since Dec. 18, 2017. This assessment is based on the Portland Water Bureau water system, other water systems in the city may have different results.
While tap water that meets the EPA health guidelines generally won’t make you sick to your stomach, it can still contain regulated and unregulated contaminants present in trace amounts that could potentially cause health issues over the long-run. These trace contaminants may also impact immunocompromised and vulnerable individuals.
The EPA is reviewing if it’s current regulations around pollutant levels in tap water are strict enough, and the health dangers posed by unregulated pollutants, like PFAS.
Water Quality Report for Portland Tap Water
The most recent publicly available numbers for measured contaminant levels in Portland tap water are in its 2020 Water Quality Report. As you can see, there are levels which the EPA considers to be acceptable, but being below the maximum allowable level doesn’t necessarily mean the water is healthy.
Lead in tap water, for example, is currently allowed at up to 15ppb by the EPA, but it has set the ideal goal for lead at zero. This highlights how meeting EPA standards doesn’t necessarily mean local tap water is healthy.
EPA regulations continue to change as it evaluates the long term impacts of chemicals and updates drinking water acceptable levels. The rules around arsenic, as well as, lead and copper are currently being re-evaluated.
There are also a number of "emerging" contaminants that are not currently. For example, PFAS (Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances), for which the EPA has issued a health advisory. PFAS are called "forever chemicals" since they tend not to break down in the environment or the human body and can accumulate over time.
We recommend looking at the contaminants present in Portland's water quality reports, or getting your home's tap water tested to see if you should be filtering your water.
Portland Tap Water Safe Drinking Water Act Violation History - Prior 10 Years
Below is a ten year history of violations for the water system named Portland Water Bureau for Portland in Oregon. For more details please see the "What do these Violations Mean?" section below.
For the compliance period beginning Dec. 18, 2017, Portland had 1 health-based Safe Drinking Water Act violation with the violation category being Treatment Technique Violation, more specifically, the violation code was Failure to Filter (SWTR) which falls into the Microbials rule code group, and the Surface Water Treatment Rules rule code family for the following contaminant code: Long Term 2 Enhanced Surface Water Treatment Rule.
From Sept. 1, 2013 to Sept. 30, 2013, Portland had 1 health-based Safe Drinking Water Act violation with the violation category being Maximum Contaminant Level Violation, more specifically, the violation code was Maximum Contaminant Level Violation, Monthly (TCR) which falls into the Microbials rule code group, and the Total Coliform Rules rule code family for the following contaminant code: Coliform (TCR).
From July 1, 2012 to July 31, 2012, Portland had 1 health-based Safe Drinking Water Act violation with the violation category being Maximum Contaminant Level Violation, more specifically, the violation code was Maximum Contaminant Level Violation, Acute (TCR) which falls into the Microbials rule code group, and the Total Coliform Rules rule code family for the following contaminant code: Coliform (TCR).
Is there Lead in Portland Water?
Based on the EPA’s ECHO Database, 90% of the samples taken from the Portland water system, Portland Water Bureau, between sample start date and sample end date, were at or below, 0.0138 mg/L of lead in Portland water. This is 92.0% of the 0.015 mg/L action level. This means 10% of the samples taken from Portland contained more lead.
While Portland water testing may have found 0.0138 mg/L of lead in its water, that does not mean your water source has the same amount. The amount of lead in water in a city can vary greatly from neighborhood to neighborhood, or even building to building. Many buildings, particularly older ones, have lead pipes or service lines which can be a source of contamination. To find out if your home has lead, we recommend getting you water tested.
No amount of lead in water is healthy, only less dangerous. As lead accumulates in our bodies over time, even exposure to relatively small amounts can have negative health effects. For more information, please check out our Lead FAQ page.
Are there PFAS in Portland Tap Water?
Currently, testing tap water for PFAS isn’t mandated on a national level. We do have a list of military bases where there have been suspected or confirmed leaks. There appears to be at least one military base - Pang Base Enclave - near Portland with suspected leaks.
With many potential sources of PFAS in tap water across the US, the best information we currently have about which cities have PFAS in their water is this ewg map, which you can check to see if Portland has been evaluated for yet.
Our stance is better safe than sorry, and that it makes sense to try to purify the tap water just in case.
Portland SDWA Violation History Table - Prior 10 Years
|Compliance Period||Status||Health-Based?||Category Code||Code||Rule Code||Contaminant Code||Rule Group Code||Rule Family Code|
|12/18/2017 -||Unaddressed||Yes||Treatment Technique Violation (TT)||Failure to Filter (SWTR) (42)||Long Term 2 Enhanced Surface Water Treatment Rule (123)||Long Term 2 Enhanced Surface Water Treatment Rule (0800)||Microbials (100)||Surface Water Treatment Rules (120)|
|09/01/2013 - 09/30/2013||Resolved||Yes||Maximum Contaminant Level Violation (MCL)||Maximum Contaminant Level Violation, Monthly (TCR) (22)||Total Coliform Rule (110)||Coliform (TCR) (3100)||Microbials (100)||Total Coliform Rules (110)|
|07/01/2012 - 07/31/2012||Resolved||Yes||Maximum Contaminant Level Violation (MCL)||Maximum Contaminant Level Violation, Acute (TCR) (21)||Total Coliform Rule (110)||Coliform (TCR) (3100)||Microbials (100)||Total Coliform Rules (110)|
What do these Violations Mean?
Safe Drinking Water Act Violations categories split into two groups, health based, and non-health based. Generally, health based violations are more serious, though non-health based violations can also be cause for concern.
Health Based Violations
- Maximum contaminant levels (MCLs) - maximum allowed contaminant level was exceeded.
- Maximum residual disinfectant levels (MRDLs) - maximum allowed disinfectant level was exceeded.
- Other violations (Other) - the exact required process to reduce the amounts of contaminants in drinking water was not followed.
Non-Health Based Violations
- Monitoring and reporting violations (MR, MON) - failure to conduct the required regular monitoring of drinking water quality, and/or to submit monitoring results on time.
- Public notice violations (Other) - failure to immediately alert consumers if there is a serious problem with their drinking water that may pose a risk to public health.
- Other violations (Other) - miscellaneous violations, such as failure to issue annual consumer confidence reports or maintain required records.
SDWA Table Key
|Compliance Period||Dates of the compliance period.|
Current status of the violation.
|Health-Based?||Whether the violation is health based.|
The category of violation that is reported.
|Code||A full description of violation codes can be accessed in the SDWA_REF_CODE_VALUES (CSV) table.|
|Contaminant Code||A code value that represents a contaminant for which a public water system has incurred a violation of a primary drinking water regulation.|
Code for a National Drinking Water rule.
|Rule Group Code||
Code that uniquely identifies a rule group.
|Rule Family Code||
Code for rule family.
For more clarification please visit the EPA's data dictionary.
Portland Water - Frequently Asked Questions
|By Mail:||1900 N INTERSTATE AVE
PORTLAND, OR, 97227
Existing customers can login to their Portland Water Bureau account to pay their Portland water bill by clicking here.
If you want to pay your Portland Water Bureau bill online and haven't made an account yet, you can create an account online. Please click here to create your account to pay your Portland water bill.
If you don't want to make an account, or can't remember your account, you can make a one-time payment towards your Portland water bill without creating an account using a one time payment portal with your account number and credit or debit card. Click here to make a one time payment.
Moving to a new house or apartment in Portland means you will often need to put the water in your name with Portland Water Bureau. In order to put the water in your name, please click the link to the start service form below. Start service requests for water bills typically take two business days.
Leaving your house or apartment in Portland means you will likely need to take your name off of the water bill with Portland Water Bureau. In order to take your name off the water bill, please click the link to the stop service form below. Stop service for water bills requests typically take two business days.
The estimated price of bottled water
$2 in USD (1.5-liter)
USER SUBMITTED RATINGS
- Drinking Water Pollution and Inaccessibility 15% Very Low
- Water Pollution 38% Low
- Drinking Water Quality and Accessibility 85% Very High
- Water Quality 62% High
The above data is comprised of subjective, user submitted opinions about the water quality and pollution in Portland, measured on a scale from 0% (lowest) to 100% (highest).
Portland Water Bureau
EWG's drinking water quality report shows results of tests conducted by the water utility and provided to the Environmental Working Group by the Oregon Health Authority, as well as information from the U.S. EPA Enforcement and Compliance History database (ECHO). For the latest quarter assessed by the U.S. EPA (January 2019 - March 2019), tap water provided by this water utility was in compliance with federal health-based drinking water standards.
- Serves: 585000
- Data available: 2012-2017
- Data Source: Surface water
- Total: 11
Contaminants That Exceed Guidelines
- Total trihalomethanes (TTHMs)
Other Detected Contaminants
- Chromium (hexavalent)
- Haloacetic acids (HAA5)
- Nitrate and nitrite
Always take extra precautions, the water may be safe to drink when it leaves the sewage treatment plant but it may pick up pollutants during its way to your tap. We advise that you ask locals or hotel staff about the water quality. Also, note that different cities have different water mineral contents.
Sources and Resources
Is it safe to drink Portland tap water? This is a question that many homeowners face and some are not sure what the answer is. The short answer is yes, it is safe as long as you do not have other issues with your water like hardening of the arteries or other such issues. You should know that the treatment that our city uses is excellent and removes most of the impurities from the water so that it is safe to drink.
If you decide to install a filter for your home, be sure to get one that can handle the water pressure in your area. If you have hard water, you will need a more powerful filter so that it can remove all the rust and sediment from the water before it ever makes it into your home. If you want to be able to have pure water in your home, you will also need a carbon filter. Many people believe that the impurities are only in the tap that comes into their home. While this is true, the water that goes out of the pipes also contains impurities.
Water filters are very easy to install and can save you money in the long run. Take the time to compare the various filters available so that you make the best choice possible for your home. Most filters can be set up in less than an hour and start filtering your water right away. It is not really a matter of whether or not you trust the water that comes into your home; it is more a matter of whether or not you trust the water that is being offered to you by your local municipality. If you feel comfortable with the water that you are drinking, then there is no reason to purchase additional home filters to clean it.
Portland Drinking Water
Today, Portland, Oregon is known as the “Green City” due to its large number of environmentally-friendly options for drinking water. The water treatment facilities in the area provide the best-quality water that is environmentally-friendly. There are also a number of green choices when it comes to shower water filters. Shower and bath water is reused by the chlorination and reverse osmosis systems in the Portland water treatment facility. These systems ensure that there will always be an option for you, no matter where you live.
There are several different sources of drinking water in the city of Portland. Two of these options include the Willamette River and the Powell River. However, the most scenic and accessible option is the natural waterway that runs through the city of Portland. This waterway has been named one of the best public recreational resources in the world.
The Willamette River Greenway is an example of green solutions for improving the quality of your drinking water. This seven-mile-long natural waterway has experienced historic flooding due to heavy rain and strong storms. This section of the Willamette River is now accessible to people who live in the City of Portland. By using the natural waterway, the water is free from sediment, pesticides, herbicides, and other harmful chemicals.
Portland Water Bureau
The Portland Water Bureau is one of the most important bodies in the city of Portland. This board regulates all sorts of water usage by both the residential and commercial sectors of the city. This board comes into effect after the city of Portland municipal government has passed an ordinance that enacts certain rules in regards to water usage within the city limits. This agency is also responsible for ensuring that Portland homes and businesses abide by these limits and protect the environment from any kind of damage. While many people may not give the water bureau too much credit, it is undeniable that the bureau does its job with the utmost dedication and professionalism.
When you look at the various services that are offered by the Portland Water Bureau, it becomes clear that it is a body that does its job in order to protect the environment and promote good living in the city of Portland. It also has a specific mandate to ensure that the water usage by both the commercial and residential sectors is properly monitored and controlled. These agencies often work closely with the neighbors of individual properties to ensure that they do not exceed their allowed water consumption levels. If a home or business uses more water than is allowed, the water bureau will take action by ordering a fine to be paid by the property owner.
It is very important that you get in touch with the Portland Water Bureau if you are worried about how much water you are using in your house or if there is some sort of water pollution occurring in your neighborhood. This agency does its work in such a manner that it can ensure that you do not need to worry about water pollution affecting your quality of life. By regulating water usage in the city of Portland, the bureau ensures that you do not end up being burdened with excessive water bills and do not feel guilty whenever you do end up using more water than is necessary. In addition, this agency also offers free advice whenever you feel that you are confused about any aspect of water usage. It is best to get in touch with the Portland water bureau if you want to ensure that your home or business remains well-maintained and pollution-free.
Portland Water Quality
If you own a piece of property that is near a body of water like the Washington Parks and Recreation Area, you know how important it is to have a Portland water quality testing kit in your home. There are a number of reasons why this is so important – one of them being that the chemicals and pollutants that are present in the water can endanger the lives of those who swim or fish in it, as well as harm the natural aquatic habitats that exist there. While there are already laws in place that prevent the most common forms of pollution from discharging into such bodies of water, you should make sure that you are doing everything that you can within your capacity to protect the health of your family.
The fact of the matter is, if you have never tested your local water for Portland water quality before, it can be difficult to know what to do when it comes to getting the quality of the water that you are using. There are a number of great resources that you can use to ensure that you are using only high quality water and that you are getting as clean water as possible for your use. Among the resources that you can use include your city water treatment facility, as well as water testing kits that you can purchase online.
Of course, water quality testing kits are not the only way that you can ensure that you are getting clean water to use on your property. The best thing you can do is make sure that you are always keeping your water well maintained, and that you are taking all of the necessary steps to protect the health of the people who live in your neighborhood. The health of your residents should be your highest priority, after the number of homes that you can see without worrying about the quality of the water in them. If you want to give them the peace of mind that they deserve, you need to make sure that you take care of the water that you are providing for them.