Responding safely to Portland's water main break

This page was updated at 7:00 p.m. Saturday, March 16, 2019.

Water flows down street during water main break.

The Portland Water Bureau on March 16, 2019 reported the break of a 30-inch water main at 23rd and Skidmore in Northeast Portland. The break of the cast-iron pipe sent a million of gallons of water onto nearby streets, prompting the closure of an area from NE 21rd Avenue to NE 30th Avenue, and from NE Alameda to Rosa Parks Way. The break occurred about 11:30 a.m.  The Bureau's press release is here. Portland Water Bureau Press Release on Water Main Break (282.97 KB)

Although the Water Bureau reports about 200 breaks a year in pipes ranging from 2-inches to 24 inches, this incident was more significant because of the size of the pipe and volume of water it unleashed.

Water flows in North Portland after water main break. -

Portland Fire Bureau and Multnomah County Emergency Management are responding along with the Portland Bureau of Transportation and Neighborhood Emergency teams. Officials urge the following:

  • Stay out of the water. Underwater hazards can include open manholes and breaks in the pavement.
  • Plan for power outages. Power for the affected area was turned off to protect people from electrical hazards.
  • Travel with great care. As a result of the power being turned off, traffic signals in that area, street lights and residential lights are out and will remain so until electricity can safely be restored. Please take extra care with pedestrians, bicyclists and other drivers.
  • Know that tap water in the area is safe to drink, but people should wait until the discolored water runs clear. The Water Bureau reports that a break that size will stir up sediment that is always in the water pipes. 
  • Call 503-823-1700 to report any signs of sewers backing up or plugged storm drains.
  • Protect your property with sand bags. PBOT has a sandbag station at NE 26th and Mason. Bring your own shovel.
  • The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention offer the following information on water safety during an emergency.

Water floods Northeast Portland streets after a water main break.

For more information on what to do after a flooding event:

Food safety in an emergency: Find out how to keep food safe during and after an emergency, such as a flood, fire, national disaster, or the loss of power.

Floodwater safety: Floodwater and standing waters can be dangerous and can make you vulnerable to infectious diseases, chemical hazards, and injuries. Protect yourself and your loved ones from the risks.

How to return home after a flood: If flood or storm water has entered your home, dry it out as soon as possible to prevent mold and take these steps.