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Imagine if every time you showered, washed your clothes, or flushed your toilet you had to collect and store all the water you used. Think about what it would be like to transport all that water to a place where you could remove pollutants and make it clean enough to pour into a local river or stream without harming you, your community or the environment. The typical Portland household uses nearly 3,800 gallons of water each month. It’s not hard to imagine how challenging, time consuming, and even unpleasant that chore would be for most of us.
But Portlanders don’t have to do that because the Bureau of Environmental Services works to protect water quality, public health, and the environment. We collect and treat wastewater, construct and maintain sewers, manage stormwater, and restore streams and watersheds.
The public sewer system serves Portlanders every day. Some of the sewer and stormwater infrastructure is above ground, like the green streets that manage millions of gallons of stormwater. But much of it is underground or not accessible to the public, so we rarely see it at work.
Sewer infrastructure includes a system of 2,500 miles of sewer pipe, more than one third of which is over 80 years old. The pipes carry wastewater to two treatment plants that are staffed around the clock every day of the year. If something goes wrong with the system, sewer maintenance staff are available to respond 24 hours a day.
Environmental Services is committed to safety on its job sites - for the public, contractors and employees. In fiscal year 2015, just nine on the job injuries required medical attention. That rate is well below industry safety standards.
Environmental Services sewer construction jobs often use local contractors, providing jobs in the community. Many of the contractors are minority or woman-owned businesses or emerging small businesses.
Restoring Watershed Health
Here’s what we did last year with community partners:
Read Portland’s new Watershed Report Cards to learn about conditions in Portland’s rivers, streams and watersheds, what’s improving and where we need to do more.