POL Government Elected Officials Commissioner Nick Fish News Blog Archive Blog

Kelly Butte Reservoir serves Portland

A new reservoir at Kelly Butte in Southeast Portland is now serving pristine Bull Run water to customers across our community. 


For 43 years, a 10 million gallon above-ground tank stored water at Kelly Butte. In 2012, the Portland Water Bureau began work on a new, larger reservoir to serve Portland’s growing population.


The new reservoir includes two underground cells that hold 25 million gallons of water. Bull Run water fills the Kelly Butte reservoir, which then serves East Portland businesses and families. The reservoir also serves as a  water stopover for reservoirs and storage tanks in Southwest Portland.


The storage tanks are now underground, so they have disappeared from view. Crews will continue working this year to construct access roads and fences, and to complete landscaping – including  planting more than 1,660 trees and 7,250 scrubs across the entire site. 


Check out the Water Bureau’s website for more information.

April 27, 2015

Friday Roundup

April 24, 2015

Supporting the arts

Portland is a great place to live, work, and play thanks to the arts. 


Nick is proud to serve as the Council liaison to the Regional Arts & Culture Council (RACC), our local arts and culture champion. RACC provides millions in grants each year to local artists, arts organizations, and education programs in our community.


RACC announced an additional $200,000 in grants for 11 Portland-based arts organizations through RACC’s General Operating Support program. Arts organizations count on the funding so they can enrich our community with arts education, music, theater, dance, and more!


The boost in funding is thanks to Portland’s voter-approved Arts Education & Access Fund (AEAF), as well as funding from the City of Portland. The AEAF income tax generates more than $7 million each year to support arts education in our public schools, and to help expand access to the arts for all.


Check out RACC’s website for more information. 

April 23, 2015

Making Earth Day every day

Portland is famous for being green. From forests and open spaces to urban streams and watersheds, Portlanders are lucky to share their space with a rich, natural environment.


Portland is also famous for its “green” practices. In celebration of Earth Day, the Bureau of Environmental Services (BES) announced a new grading system to track Portland’s watershed health.


Healthy watersheds protect public health, make our community more livable, and support native fish and wildlife. BES’s new Watershed Report Cards will assign A-F letter grades for temperature, mineral content, wildlife numbers, tree canopy, and more! Not only will the City be better able to identify problem areas, but Portlanders will also get a bigger picture of our overall environmental health – and how they can get involved in keeping Portland green.


We’ll grade watersheds across our community – in the Willamette, Willamette Tributaries, Fanno Creek, Tryon Creek, Columbia Slough, and Johnson Creek.


Watershed Report Cards will go live on BES’s website on May 1!


BES Watershed Report Cards PowerPoint

April 22, 2015

Sustainability at Crystal Springs Creek

The City of Portland continues to be a leader in sustainability. 


The American Planning Association (APA) awarded the Bureau of Environmental Services (BES) and Portland Parks & Recreation (Parks) with the Sustainable Parks, Recreation and Open Space Project award.


The annual award honors projects, policies, organizations making a difference in developing sustainable communities. 


Marie Walkiewicz from BES and Brett Horner from Parks accepted the award on behalf of the bureaus at APA’s Second Annual Awards for Excellence in Sustainability conference in Seattle. 


BES and Parks earned the honor for their great partnership on the Crystal Springs Creek restoration project.


Crystal Springs is a major tributary of Johnson Creek that originates from springs near Reed College. 


The restoration project’s aim was to enhance conditions of the creek and improve water quality. It included converting a duck pond into a wetland, removing nine culverts, adding walkways, planting nearly 2,000 native plants and trees, and much more!

One of the main objectives of the project was to also restore salmon habitat. Thanks to BES and Parks’ innovative collaboration, salmon came back to Portland during last year’s spawning season, and will be back for years to come.


Crystal Springs is now a safe, sustainable, flourishing home for salmon and other critters. 


Check out BES’ website to learn more about the Crystal Springs Creek restoration project. 

April 21, 2015

Take a stroll through Portland’s art

April showers bring May flowers… but what does April sunshine bring? An opportunity to get outside and take a stroll through Portland’s public artworks!


Portland has more than 1,900 publicly-owned pieces of art – including sculptures, photographs, paintings, murals, and more.


Nick is proud to serve as Council liaison to the Regional Arts & Culture Council, our local nonprofit in charge of curating and caring for our public art collection. RACC’s website provides an exhaustive, searchable database of all of our public artwork: www.racc.org/public-art/search


Public Art PDX is a free iPhone/iPod app that showcases more than 400 of Portland’s public artworks on display around our city. The app provides a location-based map to show you which artwork is near you! The app includes photos of the work, details about the artist, and more.


Portland is a special place to live, work, and play thanks to the arts. Download Public Art PDX, grab your sunscreen and go for a walk, and find your new favorite piece of public art!


Learn more about our public art collection on RACC’s website.

April 20, 2015

Out and about with Commissioner Fish


Nick had an especially great day yesterday, with the opportunity to visit some of Portland’s stellar nonprofit organizations.  


In the morning, Nick joined Scott Andrews at LifeWorks Northwest’s annual breakfast fundraiser at the Zoo. The nonprofit supports people struggling with mental illness and addiction. Lifeworks provides proactive and culturally responsive services for people of all ages. 


Afterwards, Spencer Beebe, founder and developer of the award-winning Ecotrust building, gave Nick a tour of Ecotrust’s “The Redd Project” in Southeast Portland. The project focuses on sustainable food in our community. Ecotrust seeks to foster a natural model of development. They help create strong communities, economies, and ecosystems. Ecotrust was just awarded “B Corp Best for the World” for the third time! B Corps are companies that meet very high standards of social and environmental performance, as well as accountability and transparency.


Then, Nick was honored to join Rich Brown as he was recognized at the REAP Legacy Award Luncheon. REAP stands for Reaching & Empowering All People. It provides youth leadership development programs and activities in our diverse communities.   


We’re lucky to live in a city with so many engaged citizens, mission-driven nonprofits, and visionary leaders!

April 17, 2015

Friday Roundup

April 17, 2015

Our healthy Bull Run Watershed

Last month marked the third anniversary of our one-of-a-kind Bull Run Watershed Treatment Variance


The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) requires that cities take action to keep the bacteria Cryptosporidium out of our drinking water. “Crypto” causes a terrible gastrointestinal illness that can be especially dangerous for children, older adults, and people with weakened immune systems. The EPA’s rule says cities must treat for the bacteria at the source of their drinking water.


Thanks to Portland’s outstanding raw water quality, we received a variance for Crypto treatment from the Oregon Health Authority in 2012. The variance allows the Portland Water Bureau to maintain our Bull Run water supply without adding the expensive special treatments for cryptosporidium. We are the only large water system in the nation to receive a variance!


Our visionary Bull Run Watershed not only provides us some of the best drinking water in the world, the protections we have in place in the watershed make Crypto contamination very unlikely. Portland Water Bureau staff monitor our water quality extensively to make sure it stays that way.


The Water Bureau released their Bull Run Treatment Variance Watershed Report for 2014. It includes two very important facts: the Water Bureau remains in full compliance with our variance conditions, and there were zero detections of Crypto in our water!


Check out the Water Bureau’s website to learn more about the Bull Run Watershed Treatment Variance. 

April 16, 2015

Poverty Awareness Week

Today, Nick was honored to speak to students at St. Mary’s Academy, as part of the school’s Poverty Awareness Week.

Nick talked about the documentary, American Winter, which chronicles eight Portland families who struggled during the Great Recession. The film highlights the challenges faced by working families in a “one strike and you’re out” economy.


American Winter features interviews with a number of community leaders, including Nick. The film won a number of awards, and was nominated for an Emmy.


Nick described the film as a “call to action,” and urged students to think about the ways they can make a difference addressing poverty in our community.


Special thanks to Nick’s hosts, including senior student chair, Monet Tyler, as well as the other student advisors and teachers. And congratulations to the St. Mary’s family for shining a light on poverty.

April 15, 2015

The Fish team is hiring!

Our office is seeking a talented professional to fill the Policy Coordinator position.


Learn more about the position here.


Applications are due Monday, April 27. 

April 13, 2015


Friday evening, Nick was honored to join his friend and local arts advocate Stan Penkin and his family for the opening night of Oregon Children’s Theatre’s moving play, Columbinus.


The provocative and powerful play follows the tragic 1999 school shooting at Columbine High School in Littleton, Colorado. Columbinus stitches together interviews, police evidence, and the private diaries of the Columbine shooters to offer a thoughtful and disturbing look at one of the worst school shootings in history.


The young actors (from Portland-area schools) did a superb job with very difficult subject matter. Columbinus is for ages 15 and up, and continues through April 19. Tickets are available online or at the door.


As Portland’s Arts Commissioner, Nick is proud that our community has strong and dynamic nonprofits like the Oregon Children’s Theatre. Since 1990, OCT has provided outstanding theater, arts education, and even an acting academy for local youth. Thanks to Portland voters, the Theatre also receives financial support through the Arts Education & Access Fund (arts tax)!

April 13, 2015

Friday Roundup

April 10, 2015

Transforming biogas into vehicle fuel

The Oregon Department of Energy granted the Bureau of Environmental Services (BES) a $2 million tax credit through the Energy Incentives Program


BES will use that tax credit to offset the cost of a project to convert wastewater biogas into vehicle fuel. 


Biogas is a byproduct of wastewater treatment. Portland City Council recently approved a contract to design a facility at the Columbia Boulevard Wastewater Treatment Plant. It converts biogas into compressed natural gas vehicle fuel. 


The process is both economically beneficial and environmentally friendly! It will reduce diesel fuel use and cut greenhouse gas emissions. And, the project will re-use nearly all of the 600 million cubic feet of biogas the treatment plant produces annually!


The tax credit will also reduce construction costs, which will save money for sewer ratepayers.

BES expects the new facility to be operational by 2017. 


Check out BES’ website to learn more.

April 9, 2015

A cozy ode to our legendary Benson Bubblers

The Benson Bubblers are Portland’s iconic bronze drinking fountains. They provide fresh, Bull Run drinking water throughout downtown. The Bubblers are so famous, there’s even one in our sister city, Sapporo, Japan. 


And now, their likeness can even keep your teapot nice and cozy!


The City of Portland has hosted the Rose City Yarn Crawl for the past six years. The event features unique patterns from yarn shops around the city.


This year, designers took inspiration from Portland’s iconic landmarks and destinations, including our Benson Bubblers. 


Talented local knitter, Tinaka Schwendiman, crocheted the fantastic Benson Bubbler Teapot Cozy. The imaginative creation is a wonderful hand-made tribute to the original Benson Bubblers. 


All of the patterns presented at this year’s crawl, including the Benson Bubbler Teapot Cozy, can be downloaded here! The crocheted creations are also featured in the 2015 eBook, “Postcards from Portland.”


Check out the Portland Water Bureau’s website to learn more about the Benson Bubblers. 


Photo courtesy of the Rose City Yarn Crawl.

April 8, 2015

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