POL Government Elected Officials Commissioner Nick Fish News Blog Archive Blog

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

In Celebration of Pigpens

The Portland Building’s latest art installation is for the pigs!


Local artists Lou Watson and Michele McCall provide a comical and artistic response to a quote by the Portland Building’s late architect, Michael Graves, in their installation, In Celebration of Pigpens; The “Sties” the Limit?


Graves was asked what changes he would like to see in the Portland Building. His suggestion included, “Clean out the lobby, make it a great deal smarter than it is now.  It’s a pigpen in there now.”


In Celebration of Pigpens embraces all things “pigpen” from pop culture. It includes odes to the scruffy and adorable Peanuts character, the musician known as “Pigpen” from the musical band, The Grateful Dead, and more! Sit on a comfy (and appropriate) straw bale as you contemplate the vast examples of pigpens. 


The Regional Arts & Culture Council (RACC) sponsors the Installation Art Series.  Selected through a juried process, each installation questions common perspectives through art.

In Celebration of Pigpens is up now through April 24 in the Portland Building’s lobby.


Check out RACC’s website for more information.

Portland Building Installation Art Series

1120 SW 5th Avenue

8 am – 5 pm


Photo courtesy of RACC.

April 7, 2015

Portland’s abundant water supply

Water has been in the news a lot, lately. California is experiencing a record drought, which has led to the state’s first-ever mandatory restrictions on water use.  


Portlanders are very fortunate – we have an abundant water supply thanks to our visionary Bull Run Watershed. The Portland Water Bureau does not anticipate any water restrictions now or into this summer.    


The Bull Run Watershed is Portland’s primary source for drinking water. Rather than a snowpack, our watershed supply comes from rain. Though the Bull Run at the base of Mt. Hood, this year’s low snowpack won’t affect our water supply. The spring rains of April, May, and June will have a much greater influence on our summer water supply. 


The Bull Run reservoirs are currently stocked full of pristine water, as is the Columbia South Shore Well Field, our secondary water source.


The Portland Water Bureau carefully monitors water levels, weather forecasts, and water use patterns throughout the year. They ensure that we have adequate, clean water well into the hot summer months. 


While we’re lucky to have plenty of water, it’s always a good idea to conserve water when possible. Check out the Portland Water Bureau’s website for water efficiency tips. 


California governor imposes mandatory water restrictions as drought worsens

The Associated Press in The Oregonian

April 6, 2015

Friday Roundup

April 3, 2015

Venture out this spring and summer

Spring and summer are great times to explore Portland’s eclectic neighborhood business districts. 


Venture Portland just awarded $31,500 for 11 Spring/Summer Grant Projects in Portland’s neighborhood business districts around the city.    


Many of the projects focus on fun, large-scale shopping events and activities, including street fairs.  All of the projects are directly tied to our local economy, and the grants will leverage an additional $137,563 in private business district investment!


Shopping locally, especially in the sun, isn’t just fun - it’s also beneficial to Portland’s economy.  For every dollar spent at a local business, 70% stays in our community. 


Check out Venture Portland’s website for more information and a list of Spring/Summer grant awardees.


April 2, 2015

Bringing affordable homes to North Macadam

Yesterday, City Council took a number of important steps to meet the housing goals for South Waterfront that were established in 2003.


By adopting an amendment to the North Macadam Urban Renewal Area, and passing a Resolution introduced by Nick, the Council committed to spending at least $47 million to build affordable homes in South Waterfront. That translates to at least 270 new affordable homes for low-income families in a desirable neighborhood.


Nick was proud to partner with housing advocates, his colleagues, the Portland Development Commission, the Portland Housing Bureau, and former City Commissioner Gretchen Kafoury to honor the City's affordable housing commitments in South Waterfront.   


Hall Monitor: Giving Up on Giving Up

Dirk VanderHart in the Portland Mercury


City OKs urban renewal shuffle after making concessions for low-income housing in South Waterfront
Steve Law in the Portland Tribune


Portland Just Drastrically Changed Its Urban Redevelopment Strategy - And That's Actually Interesting

Dirk Vanderhart in the Portland Mercury


More affordable housing on City Council agenda
Jim Redden in the Portland Tribune


Charlie Hales 'very proud' as sweeping urban renewal changes OK'd

Andrew Theen in The Oregonian


Nick Fish pushes affordable-housing commitment as OHSU deal questioned: Portland City Hall Roundup

Brad Schmidt in The Oregonian

April 1, 2015

Thank you, George Hocker

After six years of working with the Fish team, we bid a fond farewell to our dear friend and colleague George Hocker.


George has served as Nick’s Public Advocate since 2008. He has been the liaison to the Disability Commission, Elders in Actions, Age Friendly Cities, and a variety of other community groups.  


George has had a lifetime of accomplishments. A graduate of Howard University, he spent over thirty years working for the Central Intelligence Agency, with significant time spent in Africa, South America, and the South Pacific. George recently served as an administrative Pastor in the faith community before joining the Fish team.   


We thank you George, for everything you have done for the City and this office! And, we wish you well on your next adventure. 

March 31, 2015


Plant trees and save money!


The Bureau of Environmental Services (BES) has a great seasonal program called Treebate that rewards Portland residents for planting trees.


Trees help contribute to clean rivers and healthy watersheds by keeping rainwater out of our sewer system. A large tree can absorb nearly 600 gallons of stormwater a year! If you plant an eligible tree, BES will credit your city utility bill! Your Treebate credit will depend on your tree’s size and future potential to help manage stormwater.   


Treebate is easy: purchase an eligible tree (or trees) and plant it in your residential yard. Then, submit a Treebate application along with your receipt. Applications are due by April 30. 


Check out BES’ website to learn more about Treebate.

March 30, 2015

Friday Roundup

March 27, 2015

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