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The City of Portland, Oregon

Nick Fish (In Memoriam)

City of Portland Commissioner

phone: 503-823-3589


1221 S.W. 4th, Room 240, Portland, OR 97204

The Big Pipe

July 22, 2013

Last Week, Willamette Week ran a poem by Richard Grunert about one of our city’s unseen and important heroes: the Big Pipe.

The Big Pipe is used to control combined sewer overflows. Older neighborhoods in Portland have a sewer system that mixes untreated sewage and stormwater run off into a single pipe. During heavy rain storms, runoff from buildings, streets, and other hard surfaces can fill these combined sewers – causing them to overflow. Controlling the sewer overflows, with the help of the Big Pipe, plays a key role in keeping the Willamette River safe and healthy.

It took 20 years to complete the project, but our once-polluted Willamette River has now become a safe place for Oregonians to swim and play.

Read Richard Grunert’s poem online.