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Answers to Frequently Asked Questions about Clean River Rewards

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Q: Where can I get more information about how to let my stormwater runoff soak safely into the ground on my property?  

A: Visit Managing Rain on Your Property or our Technical Assistance for Drainage Issues on Your Property page.

Q: What do I need to do to maintain my stormwater management facilities so they keep working effectively?  

A: Visit Managing Rain on Your Property or our Technical Assistance for Drainage Issues on Your Property page.

Q: Does all my stormwater runoff have to soak into the ground on my property to qualify for Clean River Rewards?  

A: No. If some of the runoff soaks into the ground on your property and some drains to the sewer system or street, you can still sign up for a partial discount.

Q: If all of my stormwater runoff safely soaks into the ground on my property, why do I only get a discount on the on-site portion of the bill? Why can’t I get a discount on all the stormwater charges?  

A: The City collects both an on-site and off-site stormwater fee to help pay for a comprehensive system of stormwater management and drainage services.  

The discount applies to the on-site stormwater fee, which applies to the runoff from your private property.

The off-site charge reflects the cost of managing stormwater from public spaces like streets and sidewalks. The City must continue to install and maintain pipes, green streets, and underground facilities to service the public spaces. The off-site charge also supports programs that help keep stormwater pollution from entering Portland’s rivers and streams.  

Q: The stormwater runoff from my property has been safely soaking into the ground on my property for a while; can I get a credit for fees I’ve paid in the past?  

A: No. The discount only starts after you’ve submitted a completed registration form.  

Q: Does the Clean River Rewards program expire?  

A: The program will remain in effect indefinitely until or unless modified by City Council.  

Q: My property is in a Multnomah County Drainage District. Am I eligible for a Clean River Rewards discount?  

A: No. Properties within a Multnomah County Drainage District don’t get charged an on-site stormwater fee by the City of Portland, so there is nothing to subtract the discount from.  

Q: I have only one very large tree on my property. Do I qualify for the Clean River Rewards tree discount?  

A: In general, it takes four trees or more and each at least 15-feet tall to qualify. However, if your tree provides a total tree canopy at least 200 square feet, you can request a special case. When registering, attach a letter asking for the tree discount stating that you have sufficient tree canopy to qualify. Program staff will check your property on aerial maps and get back to you to let you know if you qualify. The trees must be on your private property and not street trees.  

Q: Do I need a permit to build a stormwater management facility?  

A: Possibly. Simple solutions, such as disconnecting your downspout or minor changes to your landscape, may not need a City permit. However, if you need underground piping, major excavation, structure alterations, or have steep slopes and poorly draining soils, you may need a permit to install a stormwater management solution. Find more information about designing, building, and maintaining a variety of stormwater solutions on the Managing Rain on Your Property page. When in doubt about permits, contact the Development Services Center.  

Q: Will I need to upgrade existing non-conforming development on my property when I get a permit for my stormwater management facility?  

A: No. Stormwater management improvements alone will not trigger requirements to upgrade an existing development if it does not meet current zoning requirements. This allows property owners to add stormwater facilities to their property without the burden of bringing the entire site into compliance with the City’s zoning code (City Code 33.258.070.D.2.a.4).

Q: Are there other financial assistance services to help me with my water bill?  

A: Information about financial assistance services, contact information, and FAQs can be found on the Sewer, Stormwater and Water Bill Financial Assistance page.  

Q: Where can I find the administrative rules governing the Clean River Rewards program?

A: Information about the administrative rules is in the City Code