The tracker shows how the Big Pipes fill up during wet weather. Levels will rise as two giant pipes on either side of the Willamette River collect, store, and send a mix of stormwater and sewage to the City’s wastewater treatment plant. Before the project’s completion in 2011, that mixture would have overflowed to the river. Today, overflows are rare, and the river is almost always clean enough for river recreation.
Track Levels Now
Data are updated every 15 minutes, with up to a 45-minute lag time.
Track Levels over 72-hours
Levels are at 0-5%
On most days, the Big Pipes are not needed during dry weather or light rain. Portland’s regular network of more than 2,500 miles of pipes has enough capacity to send all sewage and stormwater to the treatment plant. However, plant operators may use the Big Pipes as part of daily operations, so you may see the level up to 5 percent full at times.
Portland's green infrastructure (trees, rain gardens, and wetlands) provide additional natural stormwater solutions—letting plants and soil absorb rainwater, and reducing the amount that gets sent into pipes.
During heavier rains
You will see the level rise on this graphic, reflecting how full the Big Pipes are. The amount you see is sent to the treatment plant. Before the Big Pipe Project's completion in 2011, this amount would have overflowed to the Willamette River. Indeed, overflows used to occur regularly—about 50 times a year.
During severe storms
During severe storms, the Big Pipes may reach capacity. Levels will approach 100 percent. On rare occasions (an estimated four times a year), a combined sewer overflow may occur. If that happens, Environmental Services will issue a combined sewer overflow advisory warning the public to avoid contact with the river for 48 hours.
Overall, you can see here how the Big Pipes make a big difference to Willamette River water quality.