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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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Imagine a Day Without Water


Thinking about the infrastructure we often take for granted

How often do you stop to think about the value of our water, or imagine a day without water?

wetland in southeast Portland  green street on a rainy day  scientists monitoring stream conditions 

That’s not just a question about drinking water, but also water in our rivers and streams for fish, wildlife, irrigation, recreation, energy production and many other uses. 


Imagine a Day Without Water graphic

This week, utility agencies and other organizations across the country are asking people to imagine a day without water.  Then, think about how much you value our water infrastructure – for both our drinking water (from the great team at the Portland Water Bureau) and our wastewater and stormwater.  Different systems manage these waters, but ultimately, it’s all part of the same water cycle. 


Environmental Services’ Jane Bacchieri and the Willamette Partnership’s Carrie Sanneman reflected on water of all types, and why we should care even here in rainy Portland, on the Willamette Partnership blog:

canoeing on the Columbia Slough  culvert on the Columbia Slough  inspecting a sewer outfall pipe

Fall activities on the Columbia Slough


Join the Columbia Slough Watershed Council to learn more about our local water resources

bike riders on the Columbia Slough trailTwo events coming up with the Columbia Slough Watershed Council are great opportunities to learn more about Portland’s unique water resources.  Sign up soon — space is limited in these popular annual events!

Bike the Levees

Date: Sunday, October 11th

Time: 10:00 AM -1:00 PM

Bring your bike and your friends for a tour of Portland’s levee system. The Multnomah County Drainage Districts and the Columbia Slough Watershed Council will lead this 15-mile trip on easy terrain. Learn about functionality and history of Portland’s levee system which protects people and properties from flooding the work being done to ensure that the levee system meets modern standards for public safety. Riders will explore how the levees are managed for the balance of safety, recreation, and restoration. Helmets required; recommended for ages 12+. FREE.

Pre-registration is required. Click here to sign up!

Full details at:


water dropsGroundwater 101

Date: Saturday, November 14th

Time: 9:00 AM -1:00 PM (Optional groundwater facility tour from 1-1:30 PM)

Join the Portland Water Bureau and the Columbia Slough Watershed Council for Groundwater 101 – a FREE educational workshop that teaches groundwater basics including local geology and hydrology, what role groundwater plays in our drinking water system, and what we can do to protect this important resource. This interactive workshop is presented with a mix of hands-on and classroom-style teaching and is appropriate for adults and high school students aged 14 and up. Light refreshments will be provided.

Pre-registration is required. Click here to sign up!

Full details at:

Photo credit: Columbia Slough Watershed Council

"Stormwater for Challenging Sites" workshops begin this weekend

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The FREE workshop series is designed to help homeowners manage stormwater on their property. Registration is open.

Many residents find themselves stuck in the mud when trying to figure out how to manage stormwater on their property.  Internet searches and literature can generate ideas, but don’t always leave residents with the hands-on skills and confidence to successfully implement a project on their own property.

Enter the “Stormwater for Challenging Sites” workshop series, which began in SW Portland in early 2014, now in its third iteration.  The series is a partnership of SW Watershed Resource Center (WRC), Green Girl LLC, Stamberger Outreach, and Independence Gardens, made possible with funding from West Multnomah Soil & Water Conservation District.

Environmental Servicessupports staff and programming for the WRC. WRC’s role is to recruit and select demonstration project site hosts, manage landowner agreements, and take care of workshop logistics, registration and day of event support, and follow up with program participants

This year’s series begins on Sunday, October 4th with an introduction to stormwater and its relationship to watershed health, followed by field visits to two residential sites for assessment and identification of constraints such as poorly infiltrating soils or steep slopes.  On November 1st and 15th, participants will meet again at those sites.  The design process is explained, and attendees participate in the construction of a project to reduce runoff and improve stormwater management.  The groups will also discuss the periodic tasks required to maintain well-functioning stormwater projects.


The workshops are free, and open to all.  Participants can attend one, or all three workshops.  Space is limited.  To find out more and register, visit

Celebrate the Willamette River this weekend


Sunday Parkways, Salmon Celebration, UPRIVER film, and neighborhood stewardship

This weekend is filled with celebrations of our Willamette River in Portland.  It’s also World Rivers Day on Sunday, when communities across the globe will be raising awareness and celebrating their local rivers. 

How will you enjoy and help Portland’s rivers and streams this weekend?

Upriver poster photo of ducks in river

Portland’s party kicks off Saturday, Sept. 26 with a screening of the new film UPRIVER, right on the banks of the river.  Bring your picnic blanket to this family-friendly event at Sellwood Riverfront Park.  Activities like music, free boat rentals from Alder Creek Kayak & Canoe, and 200 free Chipotle burritos start at 5pm.  The film starts at 7pm. 

UPRIVER comes from the talented team at Freshwaters Illustrated, and is presented by the Portland Eco Film Festival in partnership with Willamette Riverkeeper.  The film is sponsored in part by Environmental Services and Portland Parks and Recreation.  Find out more about the film at

Tilikum Crossing bridge and Willamette River


On Sunday, Sept. 27, hop on your bike for the final Sunday Parkways of the season: Tilikum Crossing/Sellwood.  This new route crosses the Willamette River on the Bridge of the People – a great way to enjoy views of the river and experience this new part of our bike and transit network.

Get the map and brochure of the route here

traditional salmon roast at Westmoreland Park

Along the way, stop at the 2nd Annual Salmon Celebration at Westmoreland Park. The Sunday Parkways route takes you right to the festivities.  Native American cultural activities, a salmon and lamprey roast, games and crafts are part of the fun.  Check out the restored Crystal Springs Creek through the park and keep your eye out for Coho salmon and other native fish.  And of course, grab your fish hat at the Environmental Services booth and show your salmon love for the rest of your ride!  For more details see Portland Parks and Recreation’s press release.   

Both Sunday Parkways and the Salmon Celebration are happening from 11am – 4pm.  You can also get to the Salmon Celebration without a bike: take the new Orange Line MAX to the SE Bybee Station.


And finally, if you’d rather dig in with some hands-on help for Portland’s streams, check out these two volunteer events with SOLVE and local organizations on Saturday:

Last Saturday Weed Warriors at Mt. Tabor

Tryon Creek Watershed Invasive Weed Removal

Vintage train caboose makes way for restoration


Friday, August 21st was moving day on SE Tenino Street. Errol Heights neighbors congregated on their normally quiet dead-end street to see the vintage caboose that had lived at 4320 SE Tenino move for the first time in decades.

1921 caboose   neighbors watching caboose move

Over the course of several hours, they watched local construction company Lorentz Bruun lift the caboose car with a giant crane, deftly angle it through the surrounding trees, place it on a waiting lowboy trailer, and then repeat the process for the steel underframe, wheels and segment of rail on which the caboose sat.

As they watched the action, neighbors speculated on the mysterious origins of the 1921 wooden caboose, which had sat on this patch of ground for more than thirty years.

getting the caboose ready to moveAccording to George Donnerberg, his late uncle Anthony found the caboose languishing on the East Coast in the late 1960’s or early 1970’s, got in touch with the railroad, and convinced someone to ship it – by rail of course – all the way to Portland. No one knows “how many cases of whiskey it cost him,” but the caboose glided into the Errol Heights neighborhood on the Springwater Corridor rail line, then was moved by truck the remaining four blocks.

With a vision long preceding today’s tiny house trend, Anthony renovated the 250 square foot caboose to include a kitchenette, bathroom, living area and sleeping quarters, and rented it out as a studio apartment for many years.

Just steps from Johnson Creek, the unique caboose was vacant and in need of repair when the Bureau of Environmental Services purchased the property from Anthony’s family ten years ago. The property was acquired under the bureau’s willing seller program, in support of the Johnson Creek Restoration Plan.

The city typically deconstructs and removes structures acquired on properties like this in the 100-year floodplain. That makes way for projects to restore floodplain function, reduce flood impacts on homes and businesses, restore salmon habitat and improve water quality. But this caboose had historic value, and turned out to be prohibitively complicated and expensive for the city to move.

moving the caboose wheelsAfter years of looking for a partner who would relocate and restore the caboose, the Bruun family generously stepped in and moved it in exchange for taking ownership. It is currently being restored to its historic condition.

Once renovated, the caboose will sit near the Oregon Rail Heritage Center and the new MAX Orange line—joining part of Portland’s modern rail history. Rumor has it that the restored caboose may house a coffee shop.