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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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Johnson Creek Report Card

Photo of Johnson Creek

UPDATED: October 2019

This is a summary of conditions in the Johnson Creek Watershed based on data from the 2019 Watershed Health Index. The scores are a snapshot of conditions across the entire watershed. Conditions can vary in smaller parts of the watershed.
Link to introduction page on the watershed report cards

Learn more about the Johnson Creek
Watershed Program and Projects

Johnson Creek Hydrology Score: A-

Environmental Services and partners have restored more than 16,000 feet of stream bank, and projects to restore Johnson Creek floodplain and stream banks continue. Between 2015 and 2019, the hydrology scores improved, likely due to restoration efforts in Crystal Springs Creek.


    How to read the scales  
What is this?
Effective impervious area
Effective impervious area: 8.5
What is this?
Stream connectivity
Stream connectivity: 7.5

Johnson Creek Water Quality Score: C

Johnson Creek has a poor E. coli bacteria score. Much of the Johnson Creek watershed is outside the Portland city limits. But in Portland, E. coli levels are lower in Johnson Creek after the City completed the Mid-County Sewer Project. There are E. coli hot spots in the city that are likely related to septic systems outside the city limits. Some studies indicate that animal waste is also a source of E. coli in Johnson Creek.

Within Portland, managing stormwater runoff with green street planters and other approaches that filter pollutants will reduce suspend solids and other pollutants. Allowing more stormwater to soak into the ground will replenish groundwater and put more cool water in the creek to reduce water temperatures. Projects, like at the Errol Creek Confluencerestored native vegetation and enhanced wetlands, seeps and springs to improve water quality.


    How to read the scales  
What is this? Ammonia-nitrogen Ammonia-Nitrogen: 9.9
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Dissolved copper
Dissolved copper: 6.8
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Dissolved oxygen
Dissolved oxygen: 7.8
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E. coli
E. coli: 2.6
What is this? Temperature Temperature: 1.7
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Total mercury
Total mercury: 1.8
What is this?
Total phosphorus
Total phosphorus: 6.1
What is this?
Total suspended solids
Total suspended solids: 2.1

Johnson Creek Habitat Score: C

The Johnson Creek watershed has a low score for bank conditions, mainly because of rock armoring installed along 15 miles of creek banks in the 1930s. Culverts on tributary streams affect fish accessibility scores.
Over the last few decades, the City has restored over 150 acres of floodplain area. Continuing projects to reduce flooding and improve water quality and fish habitat will improve several of the habitat scores. Removing the rock armoring is an important part of these projects. Between 2015 and 2019 many habitat scores improved due to Crystal Springs restoration projects and the Luther Road project.

A relatively high tree canopy score is due to protected forested upland areas in the East Buttes. Street and yard tree planting is important in the many residential and industrial areas with below-average canopy. New plantings in restoration projects (over 200,000 trees and shrubs in recent years), and work on private property by community partners will further improve canopy, riparian and floodplain condition scores in the future, as the vegetation matures.


    How to read the scales


What is this? Bank condition (hardening) Bank condition: 0.6
What is this? Floodplain condition Floodplain condition: 6.0 6.0
What is this? Large wood Large wood: 2.5
What is this? Riparian integrity Riparian integrity: 5.7
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Stream accessibility  Stream accessibility: 4.2 4.2
What is this? Substrate composition Substrate composition: 6.5 6.5
What is this?
Tree canopy
Tree canopy: 6.9

Johnson Creek Fish and Wildlife Score: D-Johnson Creek hosts a variety of fish species, including salmon and other native species. The creek is a prime resource to support recovery of endangered salmon in Portland. But overall numbers of salmon and trout in Johnson Creek are relatively low. High stream temperatures and lack of large wood limit the ability of salmon and other native fish to grow and thrive. The result is low scores for fish and aquatic insects. Continued investment in riparian area improvement, floodplain restoration, and culvert removal will improve fish and wildlife abundance.

    How to read the scales  
What is this? Birds Birds: 3.0
What is this?
Fish: 1.9
What is this?
Macroinvertebrates: 3.6

For more information about what we measure and where these scores come from, visit the About Watershed Report Cards page.

See some of what Environmental Services is doing for healthy rivers and streams on the Explore Portland’s Watersheds map.