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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

More Contact Info


Blanchet House gets an Ecoroof


Last week, the Ecoroof team toured the new ecoroof at the Blanchet House in Northwest Portland. The 2,500 ft² project was completed in 2012 and provides tenants with an accessible outdoor seating area and views of the Portland skyline.  When its raining (like today!), it keeps stormwater out of the sewer system.



Blanchet House ( provides meals, clothing, and shelter to those in need.  The non-profit organization was started over 60 years ago by students from the University of Portland. The new, LEED Platinum building opened in Fall 2012 and serves over 25,000 meals per month. 


Foster Floodplain Natural Area: A Case Study for Restoration


Foster Floodplain Natural Area  Floodplain restoration tour group 

This April, we celebrated the completion of the Foster Floodplain Natural Area.  Since then, it’s been getting a lot of attention.  On August 24, more than 20 local environmental professionals, college professors, students, and government agency staff joined the Bureau of Environmental Services, Portland Parks & Recreation, and Otak on a tour of the site.  The tour was hosted in partnership with the Northwest Chapter of the Society for Ecological Restoration as part of their Restoration Walk series, which aims to foster interdisciplinary discussion and information sharing among ecological restoration practitioners.

The 63-acre East Lents Floodplain Restoration project (now known as Foster Floodplain) reconnected Johnson Creek to its floodplain, created approximately 140 acre-feet of flood storage, removed three roads, three bridges, and Works Progress Administration-era streambank armoring, created extensive floodplain wetlands, improved in-stream fish habitat, removed invasive plant species, and established native plants.  This project was identified as a high priority in the Johnson Creek Restoration Plan and was partially funded by the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

Tour participants learned about this significant project and lessons that can be applied in other communities.  It’s a great example of using green infrastructure (our city’s streams, trees, wetlands, rain gardens and green streets) to solve a lot of problems at once.  The natural resources at Foster Floodplain work to reduce flooding on Foster Road, improve water quality, and provide wildlife habitat. 

View the tour brochure.

For more about the Restoration Walk series and upcoming events in the Northwest, visit:

Lots of Volunteers and Less Garbage = Johnson Creek Success

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One hundred forty community volunteers came together on August 24th to take part in the Johnson Creek Watershed Council Creek Clean up.

Working in 15 stream segments, from the mouth of the river to upstream of SE 92nd, crews removed about 3 tons of trash (less than last year). Large items like shopping carts and tires were not seen as prevalent this year either. All of this is great news for Johnson Creek!


Photos courtesy Gary Wolff, OTAK


Congrats to the volunteers and the folks at the Johnson Creek Watershed Council for another successful project to improve this urban watershed!

To volunteer in the Johnson Creek watershed contact:


First Big Storm of the Season, but no Sewer Overflow to the River!


sewer pipe in riverThe beautiful weekend may have already erased memories of last Thursday evening’s downpour, which resulted in stormwater flowing down the streets and some trees to crash down on Forest Park’s Lower Macleay trail.  But here’s a great piece of news: in the past, this type of rain storm would have filled the city’s sewer pipes and caused an overflow of combined sewage into the Willamette River.  This time, that didn’t happen.

Thanks to Portland’s investment in fixing combined sewer overflows (CSOs) with upgrades to our sewer infrastructure, the river and Columbia Slough are cleaner and safer for people and fish.  The CSO control program included constructing the big pipe, disconnecting downspouts, and building green street facilities to manage the rain naturally.  Portland’s combined sewer system used to overflow an average of 50 times a year.  Now, those overflows rarely happen.  Learn more in a video about the CSO program here.

In the last two years since the big pipe was completed, there have been only five overflows to the Willamette River.  There hasn’t been a significant combined sewer overflow to the Columbia Slough since 2000.

The wastewater engineers and operators at Environmental Services work 24-7 to keep the sewer system pumping and treating sewage and stormwater. Thursday and Friday, they kept right up with the storm, and the big pipe got only 87% full.  Our green infrastructure, like street trees and rain gardens, also does its part to keep a lot of stormwater out of the system and save ratepayers money.  This big storm dropped an average of 1.25 inches of rain on central Portland in 12 hours, but no sewage spilled in to the river.  That’s something we can all celebrate!  While we are paying off the construction costs of the combined sewer overflow projects for several more years, it’s important to remember that this infrastructure will be working for clean rivers for many decades to come.

Willamette River south of downtown Portlandcanoes on the Columbia Slough




Free Naturescaping and Rain Garden Classes

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Several opportunities available this fall through the East Multnomah County Soil and Water Conservation District

Our friends at East Multnomah County Soil and Water Conservation District are offering free fall workshops on naturescaping, rain gardens, and site planning. There are plenty to choose from and they are all listed on the EMSWCD registration page. Click on a workshop name or the "Register Now" button to sign up. 

You can also request a workshop in your neighborhood. Click here to learn more or call Katie at 503-935-5368.

Rain gardens and naturescaping are great tools that can help homeowners manage stormwater on their own property, which can help shave a few dollars off your stormwater fees. These are great classes, and they're FREE, so find the class that's right for you and sign up now!