A U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Innovative Wet Weather grant program has funded 37 public and private projects throughout Portland that demonstrate how different kinds of green infrastructure can effectively manage stormwater. Environmental Services has produced a video (http://vimeo/portlandbes/iwwp) that profiles some of the innovations the program funded.
Green infrastructure uses vegetation to slow, retain and filter stormwater. Between 2002 and 2014, $3.4 million in EPA grants funded projects that demonstrate sustainable, low-impact stormwater management solutions. The program funded a variety of green infrastructure projects including green street planters, rain gardens, vegetated swales, pervious pavement and ecoroofs.
Managing urban stormwater runoff with green infrastructure protects rivers and streams, replenishes groundwater, and contributes to healthy watersheds. Green infrastructure can also make sewer and stormwater pipe infrastructure work more efficiently and reduce the need for more expensive pipe solutions.
In addition to managing stormwater, the green infrastructure projects the EPA grants supported have many other benefits including calming traffic, providing bicycle parking space, and enhancing neighborhood livability.
Projects the Innovative Wet Weather Program grant supported include:
Mississippi Commons Stormwater Planter
The Mississippi Commons development installed a stormwater planter in 2004 when sustainable stormwater management and green infrastructure were new concepts for site development. The project introduced several innovative and artistic stormwater management approaches. The stormwater planter integrated into the design of the commercial space manages 340,000 gallons of roof runoff annually.
SE Clay Green Street – Route to the River
The city worked with the community on the SE Clay Green Street Project from the Willamette River to SE 12th Avenue. The project gives inner east side Portland residents improved and safer connections to the Willamette River and an urban greenway through the Central Eastside Industrial District. The green street planters remove about two million gallons of stormwater runoff annually from Portland's combined sewer system. The project also maintains freight and business activities, enhances pedestrian and bicycle access to the Willamette River, and improves watershed health.
Stormwater Education Plaza
Environmental Services worked with Portland Community College (PCC) to combine green stormwater management with an interpretive exhibit and public art in the Central Eastside Industrial District. The rain garden at PCC’s CLIMB Center for Advancement manages stormwater from the roof and adjacent street and a green roof on the interpretive kiosk absorbs rain to reduce runoff. This project manages over 120,000 gallons of stormwater annually.
Stormwater Bike Corral
Rain from this sculpture and covered bike corral at NE Dekum and Durham drains to a green street planter that manages 65,000 gallons of stormwater annually from streets and an adjacent building. Artists Peg Butler and Buster Simpson used oil industry imagery in the project design because the facility replaced vehicle parking with bike parking and vegetation. Ecoroof planters are halved oil barrels with iridescent surfaces that change hues much like oil sheens.
More information about the Innovative Wet Weather Program is available at https://www.portlandoregon.gov/bes/35941.
Rain garden and interpretive kiosk at Portland Community College CLIMB Center