Skip to Main Content View Text-Only

Environmental Services

working for clean rivers

Phone: 503-823-7740

Fax: 503-823-6995

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

May 2009

Free stormwater retrofit workshop - 5/4/09

Extended work hours on NE Killingsworth - 5/12/09 

Summer combined sewer overflow (CSO) warnings begin - 5/15/09

City recommends caution for recreational river use - 5/19/09

  

Free stormwater retrofit workshop

May 4, 2009

The City of Portland holds free workshops to show ratepayers how to manage stormwater on their property. The workshops cover site assessment; how to choose, install and maintain stormwater facilities; any necessary permits; and financial incentives.

Stormwater Retrofit Workshop

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

6:30 p.m. - 8:30 p.m.

St. Philip Neri Church, St. Johns Room

2407 SE 16th Ave

Get more information at www.CleanRiverRewards.com or call 503-823-1371.

 

(back to top)

 

Extended work hours on NE Killingsworth

May 12, 2009

Beginning tomorrow (Wednesday, May 13), construction crews will work longer hours on a sewer construction project on NE Killingsworth Street between NE 7th and 8th avenues. New work hours are 7:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. on weekdays.

One lane of traffic in the construction area is closed during work hours and motorists should expect delays. Flaggers direct traffic through the work area in a single lane.

All lanes are open to traffic after construction hours. The extended work hours will allow construction crews to complete final paving on NE Killingsworth. The work will take about three days to complete.

(back to top) 

Summer combined sewer overflow (CSO) warnings begin

May 15, 2009

Today, the City of Portland begins its River Alert public notification program for summer combined sewer overflows (CSOs). Between mid-May and mid-October, the city sends a CSO advisory to Portland media each time Portland’s combined sewer system overflows to the Willamette River. Portland is in the 18th year of its 20-year program to control CSOs, but some combined sewage still overflows into the Willamette River when it rains. The city recommends that for 48 hours after a CSO event ends people avoid activities in the river during which water could be swallowed.

The overflow warning extends for 48 hours after rain has stopped. People who fish when the advisory is in effect should wash their hands following contact with the water. Those who choose to eat fish caught in the Willamette River when an advisory is in effect should cook fish thoroughly to kill bacteria. Because of a lack of recent rainfall, the 2009 summer CSO notification season starts today with no CSO advisory in effect.

River Alert Program

Between mid-May and mid-October, the city opens warning signs at recreational areas and public access points along the Willamette River and notifies Portland media each time rain causes a CSO event. This year's summer notification season begins during dry weather, so warning signs on the Willamette River are closed.

The Oregonian newspaper also publishes CSO warning notices on its weather page. Look for the pipe icon at the top of the page. The paper removes the icon and Environmental Services closes warning signs 48 hours after the rain stops.

These are the main components of the River Alert program. 

  • Environmental Services opens Warning Signs with universal symbols easily understandable by non-English speakers to warn river users of CSOs.
  • The signs also display the River Alert Hotline number, 503-823-2479, which people can call at any time for a recorded message to find out if an overflow has occurred and to learn more about what causes CSO events.
  • Permanent red and white Outfall Signs identify pipes along the Willamette River and Columbia Slough where combined sewers could overflow.
  • Environmental Services places Dry Weather Overflow Warning Buoys in the river near CSO outfalls during sanitary sewer overflows in dry weather. Dry weather overflows can occur when pipes or diversion structures become blocked with dirt, rocks, sticks and other debris. When this happens, wastewater in the pipe rises, goes over the diversion dam and overflows to the river. Maintenance crews check the structures frequently and clear obstructions as soon as possible.
  • Environmental Services places Dry Weather Overflow Warning Signs at public access points to the river immediately downstream from the point of a dry weather overflow. 

CSO Improvements to Date

  • In October 2000, Environmental Services completed construction of the Columbia Slough Big Pipe, which eliminated CSOs to the slough.
  • In December 2006, the city completed the 3.5-mile, 14-foot diameter West Side Big Pipe and the Swan Island Pump Station. The West Side Big Pipe captures stormwater and sewage from the west side of the Willamette River during rainy weather.
  • Construction of the 6-mile, 22-foot diameter East Side Big Pipe began in 2006. When that project is finished in 2011, CSO volume to the Willamette River will be reduced by 94%. 

There will be CSOs during rainstorms until construction is finished, but the volume is diminishing as the city completes construction projects and controls discharges from CSO outfalls.

Portland is one of hundreds of communities with a combined sewer system. When it rains, sewer pipes fill to capacity with stormwater runoff and sewage. The overflow goes directly into the Willamette River. Overflows are contaminated with bacteria from untreated sewage. A CSO is about 80% stormwater and 20% raw sewage.

(back to top) 

City recommends caution for recreational river use

May 19, 2009

Due to the most recent rainstorm, Portland’s combined sewers have overflowed. Portland's Environmental Services advises the public against any recreational activity in the Willamette River during which water could be swallowed.

The public should avoid the Willamette River for 48 hours after the rain has stopped. It is especially important to avoid recreational activities–such as water skiing, jet skiing or swimming–during which water could be swallowed. While health risks from combined sewer overflows (CSOs) are unknown, Environmental Services takes these precautions to protect the public health.

People who fish should wash their hands following contact with the water. Those who choose to eat fish caught in the Willamette River should cook them thoroughly to kill bacteria.

In many areas of Portland, sewage mixes with stormwater runoff in what is called a combined sewer system. When the combined sewer system receives too much runoff, it overflows into the Willamette River. CSOs are contaminated with bacteria from untreated sewage.

Portland is in the 18th year of a 20-year program to improve the city's sewer system. Until the program is complete, overflows of untreated sewage and stormwater will occur during rainstorms, although as the program progresses, CSO volume and the number of outfall pipes that overflow are diminishing.

(back to top)

For information about Environmental Services programs, contact Linc Mann at  503-823-5328.

Heartbleed Security Notice

A serious security vulnerability known as "Heartbleed" was recently discovered in OpenSSL, a popular software library commonly used by many websites on the internet to encrypt communication between a user's computer and a web server.

PortlandOregon.gov is NOT affected by this vulnerability as it does not use the OpenSSL software library. Please rest assured we are dedicated to protecting your security on this website.