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The City of Portland, Oregon

Environmental Services

working for clean rivers

Phone: 503-823-7740

Fax: 503-823-6995

1120 SW 5th Ave, Suite 613, Portland, OR 97204

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Stormwater and Green Infrastructure

Portland is known for the rain — we receive 37 inches of rain in an average year. In a natural environment, soil and plants would absorb most of that. But in the city, streets, buildings, and parking lots cover the ground. Rain washes over these hard surfaces and becomes stormwater. Stormwater runoff carries dirt, oil, and other pollutants to rivers and streams. It can also cause erosion and flooding that harm properties and wildlife habitat.

Local Resources

Icon of video   Videos

Portland CSO Program 1991-2011  (13 min.)
Learn about Portland's work to clean up the Willamette River through our Big Pipe Project and how we manage stormwater in the city to improve water quality for animals and people.

Ecoroof Video (4 min.)
Learn about the benefits of ecoroofs in Portland.

Drained: Urban Stormwater Pollution  (8 min.)
From OPB/EarthFix. See a diver’s footage of a stormwater outfall in the Puget Sound and learn how scientists have studied innovative ways of treating stormwater in the Pacific Northwest.

The Willamette River Before the Clean Water Act (2 min., no audio)
Check out what the Willamette River looked like in the 1930s and 1940s when sewage, stormwater, industrial and agricultural waste ran freely into the river. 

Green Streets and Stormwater in Portland (60 min., pre-recorded webinar)
Learn how the City of Portland manages the stormwater in our city and ways you can get involved! Webinar hosted by The Izaak Walton League of America.

Sustainable Cities: Nature-Based Solutions in Urban Design (8 min)
From The Nature Conservancy's Nature Lab. Learn about urban runoff and how working with nature rather than against it is a key to redesigning our cities to be more resilient and sustainable. Check out the accompanying teacher's guide.

Virtual Clean Water Festival--Stormwater Lesson (4th grade)
The Virtual Clean Water Festival is a series of water-related lessons is designed to support 4th-grade students in their exploration and understanding of local water resources and systems. In this lesson, students investigate how rainwater flows through neighborhoods and helps (or hurts) our water. 




Multnomah County Trees are Doing Much More Than We Think
From Oregon Public Broadcasting. Learn how street trees are part of the solution for managing stormwater runoff and how local partnerships are working to increase tree canopy in the region.

How Trees Can Retain Stormwater Runoff. From the Tree City USA Bulletin and US Forest Service. The bulletin describes the multiple benefits and roles of trees in reducing stormwater runoff.  

Icon of website   Background Info and Stormwater/Green Infrastructure Research

Stormwater ManagementLearn more about stormwater projects, planning, and services.

Green Infrastructure — Learn more about different ways we manage stormwater in Portland through green infrastructure. View case studies about completed stormwater projects, find a tour, or ways to adopt and volunteer at a Green Street near you.

More Resources

Icon of video Videos

Fifteen to the River: Explaining Stormwater Runoff (2 min.)
Animated video that explains how polluted stormwater can pollute waterways. Describes how capturing rainwater where it falls and allowing it to soak in can reduce pollution and flooding and improve habitat for fish and wildlife. Created by the West Michigan Environmental Action Council and the City of Grand Rapids. A great introduction to stormwater.

Drain Rangers from Puget Sound Starts Here has a series of four short videos on stormwater that feature clever stop-motion animation. Two of the videos discuss the engineering design process. Also check out the Drain Rangers elementary and secondary curriculum guides.

When it Rains it Pours (2:48)
Stormwater Pollution Solutions (3:27)
Engineering Solutions: Stormwater Runoff (3:25)
Dirty Stormwater Runoff: Advanced Engineering Solutions (4:32)