Powell Butte Reservoir failing leak tests

The Powell Butte Reservoir in Portland, Feb. 26, 2014 (KOIN 6 News)
The Powell Butte Reservoir in Portland, Feb. 26, 2014 (KOIN 6 News)

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — The Powell Butte Reservoir will hold 50 million gallons of water. But first, it has to pass testing — and it’s not.

KOIN 6 News learned the dam has more than 1,000 cracks leaking thousands of gallons of water each day. Using emails from the Portland Water Bureau obtained through a public information request, KOIN 6 News also learned the reservoir is four months behind schedule.

The Powell Butte Reservoir in Portland, Feb. 26, 2014 (KOIN 6 News)
The Powell Butte Reservoir in Portland, Feb. 26, 2014 (KOIN 6 News)

“It appears our reservoir leaking is increasing. We are at roughly 200,000 gallons per 24-hour day in the east and 80,000 gallons per day in the west,” project manager Jim Hall wrote in one email.

Hall agreed to speak with KOIN 6 News — until he spoke with the Portland Water Bureau.

“PWB has requested that all interview requests be coordinated through Tim Hall of the P-W-B,” he wrote Wednesday.

Hall spoke briefly with KOIN 6 News, but declined an interview. He released this statement:

“Working with our contractor to find and seal these hair-width cracks is a normal and expected activity, and one of the final steps before the reservoir is put into service.”

Design and engineering groups who worked on reservoirs in this area told KOIN 6 News 1200 cracks sounds like a high number and could be a design flaw. However, they also declined on-camera interviews.

PWB said they are not over budget on the project and said they were behind schedule due to the unexpected rain.

The Portland Water Bureau plans to have this reservoir online by March.

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