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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

June 2010

City recommends caution for recreational river use - 6/9/10

 

GreenBucks for schools and clean rivers - 6/9/10

 

Daytime sewer construction closure on SW Multnomah Boulevard - 6/15/10

City recommends caution for recreational river use - 6/15/10

 

City will require removal of some invasive plants - 6/22/10

 

Visiting engineers tour East Side Big Pipe project - 6/24/10

 

Sewage Release to Sylvan Creek in southwest Portland - 6/30/10

 

 

City recommends caution for recreational river use

June 9, 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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GreenBucks for schools and clean rivers

June 9, 2010

The City of Portland will give sewer customers an opportunity to help public schools in Portland, and to protect rivers and streams. Beginning this summer, a check box on sewer utility bills will give ratepayers the option of donating $1, $3 or $5 per billing period to help maintain stormwater management facilities on public school property.

Facilities like rain gardens, swales and ecoroofs collect stormwater and filter pollutants to protect water quality in rivers and streams, replenish groundwater supplies, provide wildlife habitat, and keep stormwater out of the sewer system.

These kinds of facilities are located on public school property all around Portland, and they need regular maintenance to operate properly. Maintenance includes replacing plants, removing litter and debris, and keeping inlets and outlets clear.

The city will distribute GreenBucks donations to schools to offset some of these maintenance costs. The voluntary GreenBucks program can help keep hundreds of stormwater management facilities operating properly and allow schools to direct resources to other programs.

"Portland Public Schools appreciates this innovative and creative approach to helping public schools maintain their stormwater facilities," said Tony Magliano, Director of Facilities and Asset Management for Portland Public Schools. This voluntary program is a great way to support schools' efforts to manage stormwater on-site," said Magliano.

"This is a great program to help school districts maintain and improve their stormwater management systems," said Parkrose School District Superintendent Dr. Karen F. Gray. "The money saved by GreenBucks donations to school districts will be very helpful and good for the environment," Dr. Gray said.

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Daytime sewer construction closure on SW Multnomah Boulevard

June 15, 2010

A sewer construction project began today that closes SW Multnomah Boulevard between SW 69th and SW 45th avenues to daytime traffic. Motorists are detouring around the construction area during construction hours, 7:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Monday through Friday.

Multnomah Boulevard re-opens to through traffic after construction hours. Construction will last about 60 days. The project is replacing a segment of the city's Fanno Pressure Sewer.

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City recommends caution for recreational river use

June 15, 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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City will require removal of some invasive plants

June 22, 2010

The City of Portland wants to make sure that 15 species of invasive plants don't get a chance to become established in the city. Beginning July 1, Portland property owners will be required to remove from their property any plant species on the city's new "Required Eradication List." The rule is in City Code Title 29 Property Maintenance Regulations, and applies to both private and public landowners.

The new requirement is part of Portland's Early Detection and Rapid Response effort to quickly locate and remove the most dangerous invasive plants before they spread. Invasive plants are easier to control if they are eradicated before they infest large areas. Large infestations are more expensive to control and can damage natural habitat.

Invasive plants that dominate groundcover lack root structure to bind soils, which increases the likelihood of erosion. Invasive plants grow rapidly and can displace native plants, and destroy food and shelter for native wildlife.

The city offers property owners free assistance to identify and remove plants on the Required Eradication List. Property owners can call the Early Detection and Rapid Response team at 503-823-2989 for more information.

The 15 plants on the Required Eradication List are:

  1. Russian knapweed
  2. False brome
  3. Italian thistle (a.k.a. slender flowered thistle)
  4. Jubata grass
  5. Paterson's curse
  6. Giant hogweed
  7. Orange hawkweed
  8. Meadow hawkweed (formerly yellow hawkweed)
  9. Policemen's helmet
  10. Scotch thistle
  11. Common reed
  12. Kudzu
  13. Blessed milk thistle
  14. Salt cedar
  15. Gorse

There are currently no large infestations of these species in the Portland area. The new city regulations are designed to keep species on the Required Eradication List from gaining a foothold here.

More information on the Required Eradication List will be available on Thursday, July 1 in the updated Portland Plant List at portlandonline.com/bps/plantlist. More information about invasive plant management in Portland is available at portlandonline.com/bes/invasives.

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Visiting engineers tour East Side Big Pipe project

June 24, 2010

Nearly 800 mining engineers from around the world attended the Society for Mining, Metallurgy and Exploration's North American Tunneling Conference in Portland this week. The Society holds the conference every other year for tunneling industry experts.

Fifty conference participants wrapped up the conference on Wednesday with a tour of the largest sewer construction project in Portland's history, the East Side Big Pipe. It will be one of the last East Side Big Pipe tours.

Construction of the 22-foot diameter, nearly six-mile-long tunnel is ahead of schedule and is on pace to be finished by this fall. The entire project is 85% complete. Rosie, the tunnel boring machine constructing the East Side Big Pipe, began the final tunneling drive in March and is near the halfway point. Follow Rosie's progress at portlandonline.com/bes/rosie.

The East Side Big Pipe is the largest, and one of the last, projects in Portland's 20-year program to control combined sewer overflows (CSOs) to the Columbia Slough and Willamette River. The city completed the Columbia Slough CSO projects in 2000 to control CSOs to the slough, and the West Side Big Pipe in 2006 to control CSOs on the west side of the Willamette.

Construction of the Balch Consolidation Conduit, the Sellwood Interceptor, the Sellwood Wet Weather Pump Station and the Portsmouth Force Main will complete the CSO control program. All CSO construction will be finished by December 2011.

The completion of the $1.4 billion, 20-year program in December 2011 will reduce volume 94% and CSO frequency to an average of four CSOs each winter and one every third summer.

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Sewage Release to Sylvan Creek in southwest Portland  

June 30, 2010

A blocked sewer pipe caused a sewage overflow today to Sylvan Creek. City of Portland maintenance crews responded to a report of sewage flowing from a manhole near 6129 SW Sheridan Street, south of the intersection of Highway 26 and SW Scholls Ferry Road.

Maintenance crews estimated that sewage was flowing from the manhole into the creek at a rate of about five gallons per minute. Crews cleared roots from the sewer pipe and stopped the overflow at 2:40 p.m. today.

People should avoid contact with Sylvan Creek in the area of the spill for the next two days because of increased bacteria in the water. 

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