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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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Urban apartments can have nature, too


rain garden full of water

Environmental Services works with property owners in targeted areas in Portland to install rain gardens that help relieve local sewer problems.

apartment courtyard before project

apartment courtyard rain garden

A recent project in the Sunnyside neighborhood near SE 28th Avenue and Salmon Street removed about 500 square feet of asphalt and turned a bleak, urban courtyard area into a community asset. A rain garden, drywell, and patio made with pervious pavers replaced the asphalt area.

Now runoff from roof and paved areas soaks into the ground to keep stormwater runoff out of the sewer system, and apartment tenants have a natural, outdoor space to enjoy.

It was important to the property owner to plant a mix of native species to create habitat for beneficial pollinators and birds. The project directs runoff from 4,350 square feet of roof and paved area to the rain garden, and the 200 square foot patio lets rain soak through its pervious pavers into the ground to reduce stormwater runoff.

The rain garden keeps over 100,000 gallons of stormwater out of the sewer system every year to help reduce sewer backups, replenish groundwater and improve watershed health.  

Environmental Services uses partnerships like this to solve sewer capacity issues in neighborhoods with old, undersized pipes. These partnerships also save money for Portland sewer ratepayers by reducing sewer maintenance and wastewater treatment costs.

Photos: The rain garden was already hard at work in the December and January record rains (top). 

Before the project (middle).

After the project (bottom).


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