Does Portland Have Hard Water?

Does Portland Have Hard Water?

As homeowners, we are all concerned about the quality and safety of our drinking water. It is essential to have knowledge about the hardness levels of our water to ensure the proper treatment methods are used. If you live in Portland, you’re probably wondering does Portland have hard water.

Portland water has a hardness of 12 ppm, which is considered soft. The majority of Portland’s water comes from the Bull Run River, which has no hardness, resulting in very low hardness levels.

In this article, we will discuss Portland’s water hardness, its sources, treatment, and quality.

Read my article about water hardness in other cities.

Does Portland Have Hard Water?

How Hard is Portland’s Tap Water

Portland water has a hardness of 12 milligrams per liter (mg/L) or 0.7 grains per gallon (gpg), which is considered soft by the USGS.

City Average Hardness (Calcium Carbonate mg/L) Average Hardness (Grains per Gallon) Zip Code
Portland 12 ppm 1 gpg 97201 | 97202 | 97203 | 97204 | 97205 | 97206 | 97208 | 97209 | 97210 | 97211 | 97212 | 97213 | 97214 | 97215 | 97216 | 97217 | 97218 | 97219 | 97220 | 97221 | 97222 | 97223 | 97224 | 97225 | 97227 | 97229 | 97230 | 97231 | 97232 | 97233 | 97236 | 97239 | 97266 | 97267
Salem 18 ppm 1 gpg 97301 | 97302 | 97303 | 97304 | 97305 | 97306 | 97317
Eugene 22 ppm 1 gpg 97401 | 97402 | 97403 | 97404 | 97405 | 97408
Gresham 32 ppm 2 gpg 97030 | 97080
Hillsboro 21 ppm 1 gpg 97123 | 97124
Beaverton 35 ppm 2 gpg 97005 | 97006 | 97007 | 97008
Corvallis 51 ppm 3 gpg 97330 | 97331 | 97333
Bend 33 ppm 2 gpg 97701 | 97702 | 97707
Astoria 28 ppm 2 gpg 97103
Roseburg 32 ppm 2 gpg 97470 | 97471
Medford 41 ppm 2 gpg 97501 | 97504

Learn about water hardness in these cities:
Does Boise Have Hard Water?
Does Washington CD have hard water?

Oregon Water Hardness

Oregon gets its drinking water from various sources such as rivers, lakes, and aquifers. Water hardness in Oregon varies, with values ranging from 0 to over 500 ppm.

What is Hard Water?

Hardness refers to the amount of dissolved minerals, mainly calcium and magnesium, in water. Hard water is water that has high levels of these minerals. T

he USGS rates water hardness as follows:

  • Soft: less than 60 ppm
  • Moderately hard: 60-120 ppm
  • Hard: 120-180 ppm
  • Very hard: over 180 ppm
  • What are the problems caused by hard water?

Hard water can cause several problems, including scaling, decreased soap efficiency, and reduced appliance lifespan.

Who is Portland’s water provider?

Portland’s water is provided by the Portland Water Bureau, serving over 1 million people and 350,000 households.

Where does Portland water come from?

Portland Drinking Water Map

Portland’s drinking water comes from two main sources:

  1. Bull Run Watershed
  2. Columbia South Shore Well Field

The Bull Run Watershed is a protected area in the Mount Hood National Forest, 26 miles from Portland. It gets a lot of rain and snow, and the water flows into the Bull Run River, which then goes into two big reservoirs. The water from the reservoirs is treated to remove any germs that could make people sick.

The Columbia South Shore Well Field is in between Portland International Airport and Blue Lake Park. It has 25 active wells that provide drinking water from three different underground water sources. The wells are used to supplement the Bull Run supply during the summer and to temporarily replace the Bull Run supply during maintenance or emergencies. The well field is under homes and businesses, so the water has to be protected from pollution.

Is Portland’s tap water treated?

Portland’s tap water is treated to make sure it’s safe to drink. Treatment operators add chlorine to kill microorganisms like bacteria and viruses. They also add ammonia to make sure the disinfection lasts longer.

Portland’s water supply contains some natural microorganisms such as Giardia and bacteria. Bacteria are treated through disinfection. Cryptosporidium is not currently treated, but by 2027, they will have special filters to remove it from the water.

Portland adds sodium carbonate and carbon dioxide to their water as corrosion inhibitors. These anti-corrosion agents protect the lead pipes from the aggressive water to reduce lead concentrations in drinking water.

Quality of Portland tap water

Portland’s tap water is of high quality, meeting or exceeding all state and federal regulations. However, there have been instances of contamination above acceptable levels, including lead and cryptosporidium.

How much water does Portland use each year?

Portland uses approximately 53 billion gallons of water each year. Water usage includes various activities such as drinking, cooking, washing dishes and clothes, and generating electricity. Hydroelectric power plants along the Columbia River require a lot of water for cooling their turbines.

Oregon water use and consumption in statistics

In Oregon, the average household uses about 82 gallons of water per day, and the largest use of water is for outdoor irrigation.

What Can I Do About Hardness in My Water?

While it’s generally not harmful to your health, hard water can be a nuisance and lead to long-term damage to your plumbing and appliances. To address hardness in your water, you can install a water softener or use a water conditioner.

One solution is to install a water softener. A water softener is a device that uses ion exchange to remove minerals from your water supply. It works by replacing the calcium and magnesium ions with sodium ions, which are more soluble and won’t cause buildup in your pipes and appliances. Water softeners can be purchased at most home improvement stores or installed by a professional plumber.


Portland’s water is considered soft, but hardness levels in Oregon can vary widely. Understanding water hardness and treatment methods is essential to ensure safe and healthy drinking water.

Boch Richard

Richard Boch is a chemical engineer responsible for designing water filtration systems for industrial and residential customers. He has more than 20 years of experience with ion exchange, activated carbon, and reverse osmosis. Richard's expertise has made him a go-to source for municipalities and businesses looking to improve their water quality. When he's not working, Richard enjoys spending time with his wife and two young children.

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