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Environmental Services

working for clean rivers

Phone: 503-823-7740

Fax: 503-823-6995

1120 SW 5th Avenue, Room 1000, Portland, OR 97204

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Environmental Services News

2015 News Releases



Check Portland watershed health grades online

News Release

May 1, 2015

How healthy is your local watershed? Check watershed health grades at www.portlandoregon.gov/bes/ReportCards. Environmental Services developed the Watershed Report Cards to give a quick view of conditions in Portland’s rivers, streams and watersheds.

The grades summarize information gathered about water quality, how water flows over land and in streams, fish and wildlife habitat, and the diversity and health of fish and wildlife. All these issues relate to how Environmental Services manages stormwater runoff in Portland.

The city monitors conditions in Portland’s portion of the Willamette, Willamette Tributaries, Fanno Creek, Tryon Creek, Columbia Slough and Johnson Creek watersheds. The watersheds get a mix of high and low grades and the report cards highlight conditions and issues unique to each watershed.

The report cards will track changes in watershed health over time, show the types of projects that have the most positive impacts on watershed health and help the city comply with state and federal regulations, including the Clean Water Act and the Endangered Species Act.

“Good science drives good policy,” said Commissioner Nick Fish. “While City Council will be using this tool to shape our efforts to improve the watersheds, I encourage residents to use the report cards to learn about their own watershed and how they can help us continue to make progress.”

Portland watersheds won’t return to a pristine, pre-development state but improving watershed health is city priority. Portland continues to make significant investments to protect the city’s natural resources, but reversing the impacts of 150 years of urban development is a long process.

For information contact Linc Mann, 503-823-5328, linc.mann@portlandoregon.gov.

The Bureau of Environmental Services works with Portland residents and businesses to protect water quality, public health, and the environment through wastewater collection and treatment, sewer construction and maintenance, stormwater management, and stream and watershed restoration.

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National recognition for restoring Crystal Springs Creek in Westmoreland Park

News Release

April 24, 2015

The American Planning Association (APA) has given significant recognition to the joint effort restoring Crystal Springs Creek in Portland Parks & Recreation’s Westmoreland Park. This week, the APA honored the Crystal Springs Restoration Project as the nation’s most sustainable parks and open space restoration project, via the group’s prestigious 2015 Excellence in Sustainability Award.

Portland Parks & Recreation, Environmental Services, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and many other partners finished work last fall to restore Crystal Springs Creek in the park and improve access to trails and the creek. The park’s restored duck pond has a more natural stream channel with pools and riffles to improve fish habitat. Native trees and shrubs planted on the bank shade and cool the water and provide wildlife habitat.

The project included adding a boardwalk and overlooks, seating, paths, lighting, and picnic areas. Portland Parks & Recreation renovated the play area as a separate pilot project for its Nature-Based Play Initiative to create settings in developed parks that encourage creative play and interaction with natural features. The Westmoreland Nature Play Area was supported with funding from Metro’s voter-approved 2006 natural areas bond measure (Nature in Neighborhoods).

The APA sustainability award recognizes the work the city, its many community partners and other agencies are doing to bring nature into neighborhoods, restore salmon habitat in the city and improve our parks.

“This award is the result of governments working together to improve Portlanders’ quality of life,” says City Parks Commissioner Amanda Fritz. “Thanks to the many community partners and other agencies who have worked so hard to bring nature back into the neighborhood. The park looks amazing and the wildlife habitat has benefits that are far-reaching and long-lasting.”

“This project was a critical part of successful efforts to remove barriers that kept salmon from reaching the best salmon habitat in the city,” says City Commissioner Nick Fish. “Now, for the first time in 40 years, we are seeing salmon return to those areas to spawn.”

For more information:
Parks: Mark Ross, 503-823-5300, mark.ross@portlandoregon.gov
Environmental Services: Linc Mann, 503-823-5328, linc.mann@portlandoregon.gov

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How healthy are Portland’s watersheds?

News Release

April 21, 2015

Tomorrow is Earth Day and Environmental Services will use the occasion to announce a first of its kind system for grading and tracking watershed health in Portland. On Wednesday at 2:00 p.m., the Portland City Council will get an advance look at watershed report cards Environmental Services will post online later this spring.

The city tracks conditions in the Willamette, Willamette Tributaries, Fanno Creek, Tryon Creek, Columbia Slough and Johnson Creek watersheds. The monitoring focuses on water quality in rivers and streams, how water flows over land and in streams, how well habitat supports fish and wildlife, and the diversity and health of the city’s fish, birds and other wildlife.

The Willamette watershed, for example, gets a B for water quality. E. coli bacteria and many pollutant levels are low in the river, but high water temperature and mercury levels bring the grade down. The Willamette’s habitat score is C- mainly because of the downtown seawall, rip rap on river banks, and development up to the river’s edge.

“I hope our Earth Day announcement of these report cards will make people more aware of all the things it takes to protect urban watersheds,” said Portland City Commissioner Nick Fish. “We want to remind Portlanders of what we all can do to keep watersheds healthy. Simple things, like planting a tree or cutting down on lawn fertilizer, can have a positive effect on our environment.”

Tracking watershed grades will show what types of projects have the most positive impacts on watershed health and help the city comply with the Clean Water Act, Endangered Species Act and other regulations.

Portland’s watersheds will never return to pristine, pre-development conditions. Reversing the negative impacts of 150 years of urban development is a long process and some watershed conditions get low grades. But they would likely be much worse without the investments Portland has made to protect the city’s natural resources.

For more information contact Linc Mann, 503-823-5328.

The Bureau of Environmental Services works with Portland residents and businesses to protect water quality, public health, and the environment through wastewater collection and treatment, sewer construction and maintenance, stormwater management, and stream and watershed restoration.

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Sewage release to the Willamette near Cathedral Park

Sewage Release Advisory

April 12, 2015

Debris blocking a sewer pipe caused sewage to overflow into the Willamette River Saturday night north of the St. Johns Bridge. Sewage overflowed from an outfall pipe on the east side of the river at the north end of Cathedral Park.

The overflow was reported at 6:34 p.m. Saturday, April 11. Maintenance crews cleared rocks, rags and other debris from a diversion dam to stop the overflow at about 11:30 p.m. Saturday. They estimate that from the time the overflow was detected until it was stopped that about 6,000 gallons of sewage flowed into the river.

The public should avoid contact with the river downstream of Cathedral park through Monday evening because of increased bacteria in the water.

For more information contact Linc Mann, 503-823-5328.

The Bureau of Environmental Services provides city residents with programs to protect water quality and public health, including wastewater collection and treatment, sewer construction and maintenance, stormwater management, and stream and watershed restoration.

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Sewage release on SW 55th Avenue near SW Dolph Drive

News Release

April 6, 2015

City maintenance crews cleared a blocked public sewer line this morning to stop a sewage release near SW 55th Avenue and SW Dolph Drive. The release was caused by a blocked pipe in SW 55th Avenue.

Maintenance crews cleared the blocked line and stopped the sewage release today at 8:30 a.m. From the time the sewage release was reported until maintenance crews stopped the release, an estimated 7,200 gallons of sewage flowed out of a sewer cleanout on private property into a small tributary of North Ash Creek.

https://goo.gl/maps/koIHp

For more information contact Linc Mann, 503-823-5328.

The tributary isn’t easily accessible but the public should avoid contact with North Ash Creek in the area through Wednesday morning.

The Bureau of Environmental Services works with Portland residents and businesses to protect water quality, public health, and the environment through wastewater collection and treatment, sewer construction and maintenance, stormwater management, and stream and watershed restoration.

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24-hour sewer construction on N Williams between N Fargo and N Cook

Traffic Advisory

March 16, 2015

Beginning today, a sewer repair project will close one traffic lane on N Williams Avenue between N Fargo and N Cook 24 hours a day for up to three days. Motorists and bicyclists should expect delays in the construction zone.

For the last week, repair work at that location has closed a traffic lane during daytime work hours only. Daytime only construction hours will resume there by the middle of this week.

Environmental Services is replacing a deteriorated manhole at N Williams Avenue and N Fargo Street as part of a project to provide public sewer access to a property with a nonconforming sewer connection.

For more information contact Linc Mann, 503-823-5328.

The Bureau of Environmental Services provides city residents with Clean River programs including, water quality protection, wastewater collection and treatment, and sewer installation.

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Heavy rain causes sewer overflow to the Willamette River

March 15, 2015

Heavy rain this weekend caused Portland’s combined sewer system to overflow to the Willamette River. The public should avoid contact with the river from the Sellwood Bridge downstream to the Willamette’s confluence with the Columbia River near Kelley Point Park.

As a precaution, the public should avoid contact with river water until 48 hours after combined sewers stop overflowing. More details are posted at www.portlandoregon.gov/bes/overflow.

It is especially important to avoid recreational activities, such as jet skiing or swimming, during which water could be swallowed. CSOs are contaminated with bacteria from untreated sewage. Environmental Services recommends these precautions to protect public health.

People who fish within 48 hours of a CSO event should wash their hands following contact with river water. Those who choose to eat fish caught in the Willamette River within 48 hours of a CSO event should cook the fish thoroughly to kill bacteria.

Portland’s combined sewer system carries sewage and stormwater runoff in the same pipes. During very heavy rainstorms, the increased stormwater runoff can cause combined sewers to overflow into the Willamette River.

In December 2011, Portland completed a 20-year program to improve the sewer system and reduce Willamette River CSO events from an average of 50 per year to no more than four per winter and one every third summer.

For more information contact Linc Mann, 503-823-5328.

The Bureau of Environmental Services provides city residents with programs to protect water quality and public health, including wastewater collection and treatment, sewer construction and maintenance, stormwater management, and stream and watershed restoration.

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Portland treatment plant moves toward 100% biogas utilization

News Release

March 5, 2015

The Portland City Council has approved a contract for final design of a facility at the Columbia Boulevard Wastewater Treatment Plant (CBWTP) to convert biogas into compressed natural gas vehicle fuel. Biogas is a by-product of solids treatment. This project would allow the plant to re-use nearly all of the 600 million cubic feet of biogas it produces annually.

An Environmental Services study of re-use alternatives found that the vehicle fuel option is the most economical and has the greatest environmental benefit because it will reduce diesel fuel use and cut greenhouse gas emissions. Environmental Services is exploring several possible uses for the fuel including selling it to a utility company, selling to Portland area garbage haulers to fuel trucks, fueling city vehicles, or fueling trucks that haul biosolids for land application.

It would cost an estimated $10.9-million to design and construct a biogas processing and storage facility and a vehicle fueling station at the CBWTP. Environmental Services is exploring available grants and financial incentives to help reduce project costs. Construction could start early next year and the facility could be operational by 2017.

“Biogas is a sustainable, renewable energy source,” said Portland City Commissioner Nick Fish. “This project will reduce our reliance on fossil fuels, reduce greenhouse gas emissions and save money for our sewer ratepayers.”

The CBWTP has been moving toward 100 percent biogas re-use for years. More than 30 years ago, Malarkey Roofing Products© began purchasing biogas to power part of its manufacturing facility, and currently purchases about 20 percent of the CBWTP’s biogas. The CBWTP uses another 20 percent to fuel boilers that produce heat for buildings and the solids treatment process.

In 2009, the CBWTP installed two 850-kilowatt engine-generators that use about 40 percent of the plant’s biogas as fuel to generate electricity for the wastewater treatment process. Converting biogas to vehicle fuel will re-use practically all the biogas the treatment plant produces.

For more information contact Linc Mann, 503-823-5328.

The Bureau of Environmental Services works with Portland residents and businesses to protect water quality, public health, and the environment through wastewater collection and treatment, sewer construction and maintenance, stormwater management, and stream and watershed restoration.

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Sewer construction Thursday on Cesar Chavez Boulevard at SE Ivon Street

Traffic Advisory

February 25, 2015

Sewer construction on Thursday, February 26 and and Friday, February 27 will close two traffic lanes on SE Cesar Chavez Boulevard at Ivon Street from 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. both days. One lane of traffic will remain open in each direction during construction, but motorists and bicyclists should expect delays during work hours.

https://goo.gl/maps/MsjNG

The work is part of the Clinton Green Street Sewer Replacement Project that will replace 3,800 feet of sewer pipe installed over 100 years ago, and construct 24 green street planters to manage stormwater.

For more information contact Linc Mann, 503-823-5328.

The Bureau of Environmental Services works with Portland residents and businesses to protect water quality, public health, and the environment through wastewater collection and treatment, sewer construction and maintenance, stormwater management, and stream and watershed restoration.

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Bridlemile School Sewer Overflow

Sanitary Sewer Overflow Update

February 23, 2015

City maintenance crews responded to a reported sewage release on Saturday, February 7, 2015 at Bridlemile Elementary School, 4300 SW 47th Avenue in Portland. Crews found sewage flowing from a manhole on the school grounds at 1:24 p.m. and cleared roots from a blocked sewer pipe to stop the release at 2:30 p.m.

From the time maintenance crews confirmed the release to the time they stopped it, an estimated 6,600 gallons of sewage overflowed from the manhole. Some of the sewage flowed into a catch basin on school property. The catch basin is connected to a pipe that drains to Fanno Creek. Crews applied lime to the area to kill bacteria and placed warning signs at the site as a precaution. Staff removed the warning signs two days later.

Environmental Services issued a news release on February 7 stating that all the sewage released had apparently soaked into the ground. City staff investigating the release were unaware of the nearby catch basin until notified two days later by the citizen who initially reported the sewage release. The catch basin is privately owned and doesn’t appear on city maps.

The original news release also reported that the estimated volume of the release from the time maintenance crews verified it until they stopped it was 5,600 gallons. Staff investigating the release later revised that estimate to 6,600 gallons.

For more information contact Linc Mann, 503-823-5328.

The Bureau of Environmental Services works with Portland residents and businesses to protect water quality, public health, and the environment through wastewater collection and treatment, sewer construction and maintenance, stormwater management, and stream and watershed restoration.

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Nighttime construction closures on SW Taylors Ferry Road

Traffic Advisory

February 20, 2015

Sewer construction will close SW Taylors Ferry Road on weeknights beginning Monday, February 23, 2015. SW Taylors Ferry will be closed between SW Macadam Avenue and SW Terwilliger Boulevard from 8:00 p.m. to 6:00 a.m. Monday through Friday and on Sundays from 9:00 a.m. until 7:30 p.m.

Traffic will use SW Macadam and SW Terwilliger to detour around the construction area during nighttime and Sunday closures. Overnight work on SW Taylors Ferry Road could take up to four months to complete.

Go to http://www.portlandoregon.gov/bes/article/499337 to see detour and project maps and project background.

For more information contact Linc Mann, 503-823-5328.

The Bureau of Environmental Services works with Portland residents and businesses to protect water quality, public health, and the environment through wastewater collection and treatment, sewer construction and maintenance, stormwater management, and stream and watershed restoration.

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Sewer repairs restrict lanes on NE Broadway at 28th on Wednesday

Traffic Advisory

February 17, 2015

A sewer repair project will require lane restrictions on NE Broadway at NE 28th Avenue from 7:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. on Wednesday, February 18, while Environmental Services repairs a segment of deteriorating sewer pipe in NE 28th Avenue that crosses the width of NE Broadway. The pipe will be repaired using a lining process that does not require excavation.

Eastbound travel on NE Broadway will be reduced to one lane at NE 28th Avenue. Southbound motor vehicle traffic on NE 28th Avenue at NE Broadway will be restricted for most of the day. Southbound bicycle and pedestrian access will be provided on NE 28th Avenue through the intersection. 

The traveling public is advised to avoid the area if possible. Motorists should expect delays due to the lane restrictions, travel cautiously, and observe all lane closures and directions by flaggers. Southbound motorists on NE 28th Avenue wishing to cross NE Broadway are advised to use alternate routes, such as NE 21st and NE 33rd avenues.

See Google map at http://goo.gl/maps/Mtkms.

The work is part of the Grant Park Sewer Repair Project to replace or repair about 11,500 feet of public sewer pipes that are between 89 and 104 years old and failing due to age. For more project information and schedule updates, visit www.portlandoregon.gov/bes/GrantPark.

For more information contact Cheryl Kuck, 503-823-7898.

The Bureau of Environmental Services works with Portland residents and businesses to protect water quality, public health, and the environment through wastewater collection and treatment, sewer construction and maintenance, stormwater management, and stream and watershed restoration.

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Sewage release at Bridlemile School

Sanitary Sewer Overlow

February 7, 2015

City maintenance crews stopped a sewage release on Saturday, February 7, 2015 at Bridlemile Elementary School, 4300 SW 47th Avenue in Portland. Crews found sewage flowing from a manhole on the school grounds at 1:24 p.m. this afternoon and cleared a blocked sewer pipe to stop the release at 2:30 p.m.

From the time maintenance crews confirmed the release to the time they stopped it, an estimated 5,600 gallons of sewage overflowed from the manhole and soaked into the ground. Crews applied lime to the area to kill bacteria and placed warning signs at the site as a precaution.

For more information contact Linc Mann, 503-823-5328.


Lane closure on SE 122nd Avenue at SE Ramona

Traffic Advisory

January 29, 2015

Stormwater sump testing will close one traffic lane on SE 122nd Avenue tomorrow (Friday, January 30) at SE Ramona Street. The lane will close from 9:00 a.m. until 2:00 p.m. Motorists and bicyclists should expect delays during work hours.

The work is part of an Environmental Services project to modify more than 30 sumps in several Portland neighborhoods to comply with state regulations. Construction in all neighborhoods will be complete by this May.

For more information contact Linc Mann, 503-823-5328.

The Bureau of Environmental Services works with Portland residents and businesses to protect water quality, public health, and the environment through wastewater collection and treatment, sewer construction and maintenance, stormwater management, and stream and watershed restoration.

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Lane restrictions on SE 122nd Avenue

Traffic Advisory

January 28, 2015

Stormwater sump testing will close one traffic lane on SE 122nd Avenue tomorrow (Thursday, January 29) at SE Ellis Street and SE Reedway. The lanes will close from 9:00 a.m. until 2:00 p.m. Motorists and bicyclists should expect delays during work hours.

The work is part of an Environmental Services project to modify more than 30 sumps in several Portland neighborhoods to comply with state regulations. Construction in all neighborhoods will be complete by this May.

For more information contact Linc Mann, 503-823-5328.

The Bureau of Environmental Services works with Portland residents and businesses to protect water quality, public health, and the environment through wastewater collection and treatment, sewer construction and maintenance, stormwater management, and stream and watershed restoration.

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Overnight lane closures start this week on Interstate 5 northbound

Traffic Advisory

January 22, 2015

Work on a stormwater management project will close one northbound traffic lane and the right shoulder on Interstate 5 beginning tonight. The work area is about one half mile north of Exit 295, the Capitol Highway/Taylors Ferry Road exit.

https://goo.gl/maps/HJwYx

Construction will close the lane and shoulder and for up to 40 nights over the next eight weeks. Overnight construction hours are Monday through Friday from 8:00 p.m. to 5:30 a.m. The contractor may also work in the same area on Sundays from 9:30 a.m. until 7:30 p.m.

The work is part of a project to collect and treat stormwater runoff from the freeway to protect Tryon Creek water quality. Environmental Services is working with the Oregon Department of Transportation on the stormwater management project.

For more information contact Linc Mann, 503-823-5328.

The Bureau of Environmental Services works with Portland residents and businesses to protect water quality, public health, and the environment through wastewater collection and treatment, sewer construction and maintenance, stormwater management, and stream and watershed restoration.

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Heavy rain causes sewer overflow to the Willamette River

CSO Advisory

January 17, 2015

Heavy rain on Saturday, January 17, 2015 caused Portland’s combined sewer system to overflow to the Willamette River. The public should avoid contact with the river from the Sellwood Bridge downstream to the Willamette’s confluence with the Columbia River near Kelley Point Park.

As a precaution, the public should avoid contact with river water downstream of the Morrison Bridge until 48 hours after combined sewers stop overflowing. More details are posted at www.portlandoregon.gov/bes/overflow. 

It is especially important to avoid recreational activities, such as jet skiing or swimming, during which water could be swallowed. CSOs are contaminated with bacteria from untreated sewage. Environmental Services recommends these precautions to protect public health.

Portland’s combined sewer system carries sewage and stormwater runoff in the same pipes. During very heavy rainstorms, the increased stormwater runoff can cause combined sewers to overflow into the Willamette River.

In December 2011, Portland completed a 20-year program to improve the sewer system and reduce Willamette River CSO events from an average of 50 per year to no more than four per winter and one every third summer.

For more information contact Linc Mann, 503-823-5328.

The Bureau of Environmental Services provides city residents with programs to protect water quality and public health, including wastewater collection and treatment, sewer construction and maintenance, stormwater management, and stream and watershed restoration.

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Sewer construction starts Wednesday on SE Cesar Chavez at SE Ivon

Traffic Advisory

January 13, 2015

Beginning Wednesday, January 14, daytime sewer construction will delay traffic on SE Cesar Chavez Boulevard at SE Ivon Street for about three days.

https://goo.gl/maps/mA3En

Motorists and bicyclists should expect delays in the construction zone during work hours from 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. All lanes will re-open to traffic after construction hours.

The work is part of the Clinton Green Street and Sewer Replacement Project to replace aging sewer pipes and construct green street planters to manage stormwater runoff.

For more information contact Cheryl Kuck, 503-823-7898.

The Bureau of Environmental Services works with Portland residents and businesses to protect water quality, public health, and the environment through wastewater collection and treatment, sewer construction and maintenance, stormwater management, and stream and watershed restoration.

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Innovative Wet Weather Program video profiles creative green infrastructure projects

News Release

January 8, 2015

A U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Innovative Wet Weather grant program has funded 37 public and private projects throughout Portland that demonstrate how different kinds of green infrastructure can effectively manage stormwater. Environmental Services has produced a video (http://vimeo/portlandbes/iwwp) that profiles some of the innovations the program funded.

Green infrastructure uses vegetation to slow, retain and filter stormwater. Between 2002 and 2014, $3.4 million in EPA grants funded projects that demonstrate sustainable, low-impact stormwater management solutions. The program funded a variety of green infrastructure projects including green street planters, rain gardens, vegetated swales, pervious pavement and ecoroofs.

Managing urban stormwater runoff with green infrastructure protects rivers and streams, replenishes groundwater, and contributes to healthy watersheds. Green infrastructure can also make sewer and stormwater pipe infrastructure work more efficiently and reduce the need for more expensive pipe solutions.

In addition to managing stormwater, the green infrastructure projects the EPA grants supported have many other benefits including calming traffic, providing bicycle parking space, and enhancing neighborhood livability.

Projects the Innovative Wet Weather Program grant supported include:

Mississippi Commons Stormwater Planter
The Mississippi Commons development installed a stormwater planter in 2004 when sustainable stormwater management and green infrastructure were new concepts for site development. The project introduced several innovative and artistic stormwater management approaches. The stormwater planter integrated into the design of the commercial space manages 340,000 gallons of roof runoff annually.

SE Clay Green Street – Route to the River
The city worked with the community on the SE Clay Green Street Project from the Willamette River to SE 12th Avenue. The project gives inner east side Portland residents improved and safer connections to the Willamette River and an urban greenway through the Central Eastside Industrial District. The green street planters remove about two million gallons of stormwater runoff annually from Portland's combined sewer system. The project also maintains freight and business activities, enhances pedestrian and bicycle access to the Willamette River, and improves watershed health.

Stormwater Education Plaza
Environmental Services worked with Portland Community College (PCC) to combine green stormwater management with an interpretive exhibit and public art in the Central Eastside Industrial District. The rain garden at PCC’s CLIMB Center for Advancement manages stormwater from the roof and adjacent street and a green roof on the interpretive kiosk absorbs rain to reduce runoff. This project manages over 120,000 gallons of stormwater annually.

Stormwater Bike Corral
Rain from this sculpture and covered bike corral at NE Dekum and Durham drains to a green street planter that manages 65,000 gallons of stormwater annually from streets and an adjacent building. Artists Peg Butler and Buster Simpson used oil industry imagery in the project design because the facility replaced vehicle parking with bike parking and vegetation. Ecoroof planters are halved oil barrels with iridescent surfaces that change hues much like oil sheens.

More information about the Innovative Wet Weather Program is available at https://www.portlandoregon.gov/bes/35941.

For more information contact Linc Mann, 503-823-5328.

The Bureau of Environmental Services works with Portland residents and businesses to protect water quality, public health, and the environment through wastewater collection and treatment, sewer construction and maintenance, stormwater management, and stream and watershed restoration.

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