by Allen Kabanuk

Recently, I had a chance to tour the Bull Run Watershed. The Portland Water bureau offers occasional tours led by its staff. As I understand, third and fourth graders regularly go on field trips there. If you have never been on one of these tours it’s worth going. For those not familiar with the Bull Run Watershed, it is an area on the west flank of Mt. Hood (about the same size as Portland) that collects all the drinking water for the area.  It was recognized as necessary to be protected, and federally set aside, back in the 1890’s. The area is still wild, reminding me of an old growth rain forest – in fact that’s what it is!

Image from Portland Water Bureau

Through the eye of an architect there are several things that come to mind:

  • The amazing feat of building the reservoir dam in what was a very remote area back in 1929,
  • The incredible resource of water,
  • The many far-sighted people who have, and continue to, provide clean drinker water, and
  • That we, as designers, can have an impact and influence on how valuable resources are used.