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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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Portland Monthly Recognizes Columbia Slough Watershed Council

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Watershed Council recognized with 2012 Light a Fire Award


Columbia Slough Confluence Restoration

Environmental Services congratulates one of our community partners, the Columbia Slough Watershed Council, on their recognition in Portland Monthly Magazine’s Light a Fire 2012 feature this month.  Environmental Services is a partner with the Council on many projects and programs, including the restoration of the Columbia Slough Confluence with the Willamette River to benefit species listed under the Endangered Species Act and other native wildlife species.

The Council’s work to engage and educate people about the Columbia Slough, and the thousands of volunteers who help out, are indeed making Portland a better place!  Working together, we are getting more done for clean water and a healthy Columbia Slough watershed.


Happy Birthday to the Clean Water Act!

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The Clean Water Act celebrated its 40th anniversary on October 18. The groundbreaking legislation regulated pollution sources and strengthened water quality standards and basically revolutionized how we protect our rivers and streams.

How has the Clean Water Act helped improve the Willamette River? Over the last several weeks, American Rivers has published a series of articles about the Clean Water Act through the generations, starting with a video of Willamette River conditions in the 1930s and 1940s: 

Video footage courtesy of Earthfix via Oregon State University Archives

The Oregon Department of Environmental Quality required Portland to control overflows of combined sewage and stormwater to the Columbia Slough and the Willamette River. Over 20 years, the city completed a series of projects to virtually eliminate combined sewer overflows (CSOs) to the slough and reduce Willamette River CSOs from an average of 50 a year to no more than four per winter and one every third summer.

The CSO program also spurred Portland’s efforts to keep stormwater runoff out of sewers. The city has become a leader in innovative green infrastructure approaches that use plants and soil to mimic natural conditions and allow rain to soak into the ground as soil and plants filter pollutants.

Oregon Public Broadcasting has been focusing on green infrastructure techniques this week, showcasing excellent examples from Portland and Seattle, and asking If Green Roofs and Rain Gardens Are So Great, Why Aren't There More?

Video footage courtesy of Earthfix 

Why is all of this important? Well, look at water quality in the Willamette now. Athletes in the annual Portland Triathlon swim the Willamette. Events like the Big Float are getting people back on the river, and when they do they see first hand just how clean our river is. There's still much to do, but the Willamette River has come a long way and is an even more valuable resource for the people, fish and wildlife that depend on it. 

Stephens Creek Confluence 

A Visitor to Crystal Springs Creek

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This week, staff from Environmental Services saw this Great Blue Heron foraging at the newly restored Crystal Springs Creek at SE 21st and Umatilla.  

The recently completed Crystal Springs Creek Restoration project was a partnership with the Army Corps of Engineers. The project includes the replacement of two culverts at SE Tenino and Umatilla Streets, the removal of a culvert under a former driveway, and the restoration of more natural stream conditions at this 1/3 acre site.

Environmental Services is working to restore fish passage, habitat, and better water quality to the entire length of Crystal Springs Creek.  The creek is home to endangered Coho and Chinook salmon, steelhead, and other native species. Plantings will be installed by February, but the heron was already stopping by to survey the progress!  

Keep up with the community news about Crystal Springs here:



Congratulations Mt. Tabor Weed Warriors

Congratulations to the Friends of Mt. Tabor Weed Warriors for their Spirit of Portland Award on Monday! Environmental Services is proud to partner with this outstanding community volunteer group as part of the Tabor to the River program.  


To address basement sewage backups in this area of town while also supporting watershed health and saving money, Environmental Services and partners are using green infrastructure like street trees, green street facilities and rain gardens to manage stormwater naturally.  Part of the city’s green infrastructure also includes Mt. Tabor Park itself, where the plants, trees and soil naturally manage rainfall and provide habitat.  The Weed Warriors are doing their part to restore and protect a healthy forest on this city treasure.  Read more about their nomination here.


Weed Warriors volunteers planted 912 new native plants on Mt. Tabor on October 27, in an area they earlier cleared of invasive species. 


Commissioner Dan Saltzman with some of the Weed Warriors!