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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

May 2010

Traffic delays at SW Multnomah and 45th - 5/3/10

Summer combined sewer overflow (CSO) warnings begin - 5/14/10

 

City recommends caution for recreational river use - 5/18/10

 

Community groups to receive stewardship grants - 5/24/10

 

  

Traffic delays at SW Multnomah and 45th

May 3, 2010

Sewer construction today has closed one traffic lane in the intersection of SW 45th Avenue and Multnomah Boulevard. Flaggers are directing traffic through the intersection. Motorists should expect delays. Construction is scheduled to be completed and all lanes restored by 3:00 p.m. today.

Construction crews are installing a sewer line and manhole as part of the city’s project to replace the Fanno Pressure Sewer in Multnomah Boulevard.

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Summer combined sewer overflow (CSO) warnings begin

May 14, 2010

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 19th year of its 20-year program to control CSOs. Until the program is complete in December 2011, 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 it hasn't rained recently, the 2010 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 for information about the cause of 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 can rise, go over the diversion dam and overflow 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 to eliminate 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.In October 2009, the city completed the nearly four-mile north drive for the 22-foot diameter East Side Big Pipe. Tunneling on the south, and final, drive began in March 2010.

There will be CSOs during rainstorms until all CSO projects are complete. After December 2011, Portland's combined sewers will overflow to the Willamette River an average of four times each winter and once every three summers instead of every time it rains.

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.

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City recommends caution for recreational river use

May 18, 2010

Due to the recent rainstorm, Portland's combined sewers have overflowed to the Willamette River. 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 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 during a CSO event should cook the fish thoroughly to kill bacteria.

In many areas of Portland, sewage mixes with stormwater runoff in a combined sewer system. When the combined sewers receive too much runoff, they overflow into the Willamette River. CSOs are contaminated with bacteria from untreated sewage.

Portland is in the 19th year of a 20-year program to improve the city's sewer system. Until the program is complete in December 2011, overflows of untreated sewage and stormwater will occur during rainstorms. After all CSO projects are complete in December 2011, combined sewers will overflow an average of four times each winter and once every three summers instead of every time it rains.

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May 24, 2010

Community groups to receive stewardship grants

The Community Watershed Stewardship Program (CWSP) will grant $84,300 to fifteen community groups to support watershed projects in Portland. The Portland City Council will vote on the grant awards on Wednesday, June 2, 2010.

CWSP provides grants of up to $10,000 for projects that encourage watershed protection and enhancement. Grant recipients use funds for native plants, supplies, equipment, rentals, transportation, and technical assistance for community-based watershed projects. Projects include invasive plant removal, native plantings, education and monitoring, bioswale and ecoroof construction, and natural area cleanup and restoration.

The 15 projects funded by CWSP grants this year are:

  • Colonial Heights Presbyterian Church Raingarden, $4,840
  • Columbia Slough Watershed Council Eyes on the Slough Project, $3,750
  • Friends of Crystal Springs Creek Restoration, $3,900
  • Friends of Marquam Nature Park Trailhead Improvements, $4,215
  • Friends of Tideman Johnson Park Restoration, $4,800
  • Glenfair Church Community Garden, $9,995
  • Immigrant and Refugee Community Organization Gilbert Park Native Garden, $4,006
  • Laurelhurst School Stormwater Education, $2,600
  • Leach Botanical Garden Riparian Restoration, $5,200
  • Lents Springwater Habitat Restoration, $9,900
  • Oregon Humane Society Natural Area Restoration, $5,400
  • PCC Sylvania Natural Area Habitat Restoration Team, $6,100
  • Tabor Commons Stormwater Planter, $8,294
  • Tryon Creek Watershed Council Mentor Project, $7,300
  • Vermont Hills United Methodist Church Community Garden, $4,000

CWSP is a partnership between Environmental Services, Portland State University and Northwest Service Academy/AmeriCorps. Since 1995, CWSP has granted more than $800,000 to more than 180 projects. Grant funds have been matched by $2.4 million in donations of services, materials and volunteer time. Over 32,800 people have donated 293,127 volunteer hours, planted 95,737 native plants and trees, restored over 50 acres of riparian and upland habitat, and enhanced over 25,919 feet of streams.

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