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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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Back to School: Kids Learn and Teach "Only Rain Down the Storm Drain"


Students are hitting the streets to teach neighbors about stormwater pollution prevention. Educators from our Clean Rivers Education team work with students from a variety of schools, including in 2016-17, students pictured here from Boise Eliot Humboldt, Bridger Elementary and Franklin High School, on service learning projects. Together, they raise awareness about stormwater - or where all that rain goes after it washes over pavement. 

Small groups of students spread throughout neighborhood streets near their schools to adhere brightly colored medallions marked, “Only Rain Down the Storm Drain.”  These markers help remind people not to dump motor oil, paint, or other substances down storm drains. Some storm drains lead straight to local streams, rivers or sloughs and carry stormwater, which can pick up oil, gasoline, brake dust and other pollutants from streets and parking lots.

After a classroom lesson on stormwater management and pollution prevention, students at Bridger Elementary raised awareness about storm water pollution through a curb marking service learning project.


Students concentrate for a steady hand when applying the glue that holds the markers on the curbs. After the project their teacher noted, “My kids really loved it and are so proud to see the labels they put around the neighborhood! It really created a sense of ownership.”

Want to know how you can help keep our rivers and streams healthy?

  • Know how to properly dispose of household chemicals, oil and paint.  These things should never go down a storm drain, on the ground or down the drain.
  • Recycle your used motor oil – visit to learn more. 
  • Use non-toxic alternatives to home cleaning chemicals.
  • Fats, oils and grease should never go down the drain, because they can clog sewer pipes, leading to sewage overflows to homes, streets and streams. The City has multilingual fact sheets on proper disposal of these items.
  • Storm drains can get clogged with leaves, dirt and litter. Be a good neighbor and check that your drains are clear to allow for efficient street drainage and avoid flooding.
  • Compost your yard debris instead of raking it into streets. 
  • Minimize the use of fertilizer or pesticides – plant native vegetation, which requires little or no fertilizer.

Boise Eliot Humboldt 4th graders work in small groups to clear away debris, clean curbs and adhere markers to raise awareness of stormwater pollution.

There are many ways you can get involved in protecting our watersheds: 

  • Report pollution spills or manhole overflows to the pollution spill hotline (503) 823-7180.
  • Volunteer as a Green Street Steward in your neighborhood. Visit to learn more about green streets and how you can help. Fact sheets are available in six languages for green street care.


Environmental Science classes at Franklin High School worked in the Lents neighborhood to mark curbs near their school at the Marshall Campus, expanding on the work done by another class the previous year.


Add a Comment


Anna Everson

June 20, 2018 at 1:49 AM

Wow, what a great project. I am a great fan of practical lessons, as we can learn more things and use them correctly only on the practise, so that is really nice as for me. Also that is realy great to do such things with children and pupils, as such creative lessons are more interesting for them. I am glad to see that such young people are interested in nature and its safety, and also interested in such work. I like to spend time with my pupils from [url=]paper writing service[/url]on writing different essays, poems or something else, as it can be really cool and fun for them - some type of hobby I can say.


Cassandra Shepard

September 11, 2018 at 3:12 AM

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Cassandra Shepard

September 11, 2018 at 3:14 AM

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Gohar Smith

September 29, 2021 at 3:56 AM

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