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Portland Water Bureau Director David Shaff has announced he plans to retire on June 30, his 37th anniversary as a city employee. He has agreed to stay on while Commissioner Nick Fish, who is in charge of the bureau, conducts a national search for his replacement.


Fish said he was surprised by the decision and praised Shaff for his years of service.

"Since I was assigned to lead the City’s two utility bureaus in June 2013, I have admired his dedication and professionalism, his willingness to explore new and better ways of doing business, his customer service ethic, and his strong commitment to using ratepayer dollars wisely. David has been instrumental in recruiting and developing a high performance team at the bureau," Fish said.

Shaff has served the last 10 years as water bureau director.

"I cannot describe how proud I am to have worked for the Portland Water Bureau these last ten years. My entire career at the City of Portland has been incredibly fulfilling and rewarding, but these last ten years have been the most special," Shaff said.

Shaff has been director during some of the bureau's most turbulent years. During his tenure, the City Council agreed to comply with U.S. Environmental Protection Agency rules and replace the open reservoirs in Mt. Tabor and Washington Square with underground storage tanks, despite some vocal public opposition. The council is scheduled to hold a hearing on whether to issue a permit from disconnecting the Washington Park reservoirs on May 14.

He has also been required to issue several boil water alerts in recent years because of contamination detected at various locations in the distribution system, although no one has proven they were sickened by any of the incidents.

And repeated increases in the combined water and sewer bill inspired a ballot measure that would have removed the water bureau and Bureau of Environmental Services from City Council control. Although it was overwhelmingly defeated at the 2014 May Primary Election, the council responded by creating new appointed board to review and comment on the agencies budgets and rate increase requests.

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