Portland City Code requires that properties have a direct route of service to the public sewer. Nonconforming sewers are connections to the city sewer system that don’t comply with city code. There are hundreds of residential nonconforming sewer connections in Portland.
In January 2008, Environmental Services started a program that required property owners to replace nonconforming connections and pay city sewer conversion charges. Many property owners affected by the program voiced concerns about high sewer conversion charges, the fairness of the program and the way the city provided program information to property owners.
In September 2011, City Commissioner Dan Saltzman, the Commissioner in charge of the Bureau of Environmental Services, directed the bureau to form a citizen advisory committee to review the program and recommend changes.
The eight member Nonconforming Sewer Citizen Advisory Committee held its first meeting in September 2011 and issued recommendations to Commissioner Saltzman in March 2012.
The committee recommended that:
- Environmental Services cap the residential conversion charge to the cost of a branch charge
- Customers who paid or financed a sewer conversion charge since the Nonconforming Sewer Program began on January 2, 2008 receive a reimbursement or credit to their loan account of the difference between the sewer conversion charge and the branch charge in effect at the time they paid or financed their loan
- The city create a process to allow the city to adopt private sewer lines in the public right-of-way
Environmental Services developed new administrative rules and code changes to implement the changes.