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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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Odor Notification

Sewer Odors Identified and Resolved: February 17, 2022

The Columbia Boulevard Wastewater Treatment Plant treats wastewater from Portland homes, businesses, and industries. This important facility protects public health and the environment and makes our community more livable. We work hard to be a good neighbor in North Portland, to give Portland sewer ratepayers the best value for their rate dollars, and to meet the highest operating standards. 

In October and November 2021, neighbors near the Columbia Boulevard Wastewater Treatment Plant submitted an unusually large number of odor reports. Most reports came from neighbors who live or work within a couple miles of the plant. We investigate every odor report we receive to determine the source.  In some cases, we find that the treatment plant or other bureau facilities (like stormdrains or manholes) are the source of the odors. 

Neighbors reported strong sewer odors coming from the sewer system as far away as one mile south and two miles east of the plant in North Portland. We investigated this issue and confirmed the source. The odor was due to an emergency project where a force main(a pressurized sewer)was temporarily connected to a sewer main. The force main has stronger sanitary sewer flows than a typical sewer pipe.  This pushed odors further out into the neighboring sewer pipes where they escaped from stormdrains. Also, an odor control facility that helps to treat odors and keep them out of the surrounding community was down for maintenance at the same time.  

Environmental Services has put the odor control facility back into service and taken some other measures to keep odors from entering the neighborhood.  These measures will help to prevent odors from entering the neighborhoods and keep this from happening in the future.  

Thank You Neighbors! 

We are grateful to everyone that took the time to report the odors. It is important to us that we are good neighbors. We strive to prevent odors from escaping the Columbia Boulevard Wastewater Treatment Plant and the entire sewer system. Your help is critical in our efforts, so we want to say thank you to everyone who submitted an odor report. Please continue to help your neighborhood by reporting sewer odors by calling 503-823-1700. 

For more information 

If you have questions or would like more information, please contact Debbie Caselton by email at Debbie.Caselton@portlandoregon.gov or by phone at 503-823-2831.  


 

Sewer Odors Reported: November 17, 2021

The Columbia Boulevard Wastewater Treatment Plant treats wastewater from Portland homes, businesses, and industries. This important facility protects public health and the environment and makes our community more livable. We work hard to be a good neighbor in North Portland, to give Portland sewer ratepayers the best value for their rate dollars, and to meet the highest operating standards.

Over the last month, neighbors near the Columbia Boulevard Wastewater Treatment Plant have submitted an unusually large number of odor reports. Most reports came from neighbors who live or work within a couple miles of the plant. We investigate every odor report we receive to determine the source.  In some cases, we find that the treatment plant or other bureau facilities (like storm drains or manholes) are the source of the odors.

Recently, neighbors have reported a strong sewer odor coming from the sewer system as far as one mile south and two miles east of the plant in North Portland. We are investigating this issue but have not yet confirmed the source. We have early indications that the odor may be due to an emergency project where a force main (a pressurized sewer) has been temporarily connected to a sewer main. The force main has stronger sanitary sewer flows than a typical sewer pipe. This may be pushing odors further out into the neighboring sewer pipes where they escape from storm drains.

What happens next?

Environmental Services is continuing to investigate.  If we determine that one of our facilities or projects is the source, we will take steps to address and mitigate the odor. We will send another notice when we confirm the source of the odors.

How can you help?

Please help us with this investigation by continuing to report sewer odors. Call 503-823-1700 or submitting an online report at portland.gov/report-sewer-odor.

Health concerns

Some neighbors have expressed concerns regarding whether the sewer odors are hazardous to public health. Sewer gases (methane, H2S, etc.) in an enclosed pipe can be hazardous to humans, but once these gases escape and hit the outside atmosphere, they diffuse rapidly. Sewer odors are considered a nuisance at the levels typically associated with public sewer systems, and do not pose a hazard to public health. Crews will be monitoring H2S levels at reported locations.

You can find out more about information about odor investigations at portlandoregon.gov/bes/odors.

For more information

If you have questions or would like more information, please contact Debbie Caselton by email at Debbie.Caselton@portlandoregon.gov or by phone at 503-823-2831. If you want to report a sewer odor, please call 503-823-1700.


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