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Portland City Council Authorizes Crucial Water Infrastructure Projects

    Author: Lana Piskorowski

    MWH is excited to announce the achievement of a significant milestone as the Portland City Council recently authorized the first phase of construction for two vital water infrastructure improvement projects. This authorization comes on the heels of completing the preconstruction phase, where MWH closely collaborated with the project design teams and the Portland Water Bureau (PWB), starting at the 30% design milestone. Led by MWH in separate joint ventures, the Bull Run Filtration Facility and Bull Run Filtration Pipelines projects are crucial to enhancing water quality and reliability for Portland and wholesalers throughout the region. The $1.473 billion investment in these critical water initiatives marks a significant step forward for the City and demonstrates MWH’s commitment to sustainable water solutions.  

    Building on Success

    MWH has worked with the PWB over several years to improve water treatment and help protect the health of nearly a million people who drink Bull Run water. In Portland, the primary source of lead in water is the corrosion of plumbing in homes and buildings. To significantly reduce exposure to lead at the tap, MWH completed the Improved Corrosion Control Treatment project in April 2022 on time and under the PWB’s $24.4 million budget. The final project cost of $20.2 million included a construction guaranteed maximum price of $17.9 million from MWH, with more than $4 million of hard construction costs contracted with minority and women-owned firms. Committed to supporting the local community and achieving PWB’s vision, MWH ensured that 55% of the project’s hard construction costs were subcontracted with firms certified by the state’s Certification Office for Business Inclusion and Diversity, exceeding the City’s 22% goal.

    Project 1: Bull Run Filtration Facility

    The Bull Run Filtration Facility project aims to establish a new water filtration facility to improve water quality in the Bull Run water supply. Set on a vast 95-acre parcel in rural Multnomah County, this cutting-edge facility will employ granular media filtration technology, enabling it to process an impressive 135 million gallons daily (MGD). MWH, in a joint venture with Kiewit, will oversee site preparation and earthwork during the first phase of this two-phase project. The strong project team comprises industry leaders, including the Brown and Caldwell program management team and the multi-firm design team of Stantec, Carollo Engineers, and MWA Architects. Construction is set to commence in fall 2023, with a September 2027 projected substantial completion.

    Project 2: Bull Run Filtration Pipelines

    The Bull Run Filtration Pipelines project focuses on installing pipelines to convey water to and from the filtration facility and existing water infrastructure to ensure efficient water delivery throughout the region. Bull Run Conveyance Partners, a joint venture between MWH and J.W. Fowler, serves as the project’s construction manager/general contractor, while Jacobs spearheads the design effort. Construction is scheduled to commence in spring 2024 and reach substantial completion in 2027.  

    Driving Progress & Savings

    Over three years, MWH and PWB have focused on cost management for these vital projects. Through value engineering efforts, MWH has played an integral role in successfully reducing construction costs for PWB by $200 million. To help maintain water rate affordability while these long-term improvements are made, MWH is helping the Water Bureau ensure compliance with the Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (WIFIA) federal financing assistance program. This loan will significantly lower the cost of investment for affected ratepayers and provide at least $247 million of debt-service savings over the loan term. These cost management strategies are part of our commitment to responsible and efficient allocation of resources as we work towards delivering the highest quality infrastructure.  


    Led by MWH in separate joint ventures, the Bull Run Filtration Facility and Bull Run Filtration Pipelines projects are crucial to enhancing water quality and reliability for Portland and wholesalers throughout the region.

    At MWH, we are excited to begin these transformative projects that will further strengthen PWB’s infrastructure. We are dedicated to delivering exceptional results for our community through sustainable design, cutting-edge technology, and collaborative partnerships. As we move forward with construction, we remain committed to managing costs effectively while upholding the highest quality and environmental stewardship standards. Stay tuned for more updates as we progress on these significant water infrastructure ventures that will shape the future of Portland’s water systems and ensure a sustainable and resilient water supply for generations to come.  

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