Houseless and living in an RV? Environmental Services launches pilot pump out program

News Article
The pilot program is being launched to safely dispose of human waste and wastewater from RVs on city streets and prevent environmental contamination

To request a pump out, call 503-865-6884. For more information, please visit the RV Pollution Prevention Program (RVP3) service page.  

Correction November 8, 2023: Crews expect to be able service 40 RVs per week. The original news release misstated the number of vehicles that could be serviced.

A crew member in safety vest and gloves is kneeling by an RV and inserting a house to pump out wastewater
A crew member pumps out wastewater from an RV holding tank on Friday, the first day of Environmental Services pilot RV pump-out program.

Environmental Services on Friday launched a pilot program to provide sanitation pump-out services for people who are houseless and living in RVs that are parked along city streets.

The program addresses the connected challenges of safely disposing of human waste and protecting community health and the environment from spills.

Currently, people living in RVs have limited options. The only approved way to dispose of waste from an RV is at a public dump station, whose numbers are limited.  Too often, waste is discharged to a green street planter, the street, or storm drain that can lead to a city waterway.

“Pollution prevention is always preferable to clean up. I am proud of Environmental Services for stepping up to a growing need and providing services in a respectful, dignified way for our houseless community as well as protecting our rivers and waterways from human waste,” said Commissioner Mingus Mapps.

Environmental Services started the pilot after noting an uptick in reports of illegal disposal and in an effort to address the source instead of cleaning up after discharges.

The program’s first day was Friday. Crews served nine vehicles in an area in North and Northeast Portland, and one in Southeast. Crews expect to be able to collect 40 RVs per week.

Crews will establish regular routes on Fridays based on field reports from City staff and be available as needed during other days of the week. Crews plan to alter routes each week and seek to determine the demand for this service as well as how often follow-up servicing is needed. They can also make minor repairs to the RVs to ensure safe and reliable sanitary pumping.

Environmental Services will continue the pilot through June under a limited budget of $10,000 and evaluate next steps. The program is patterned after a similar pilot in Seattle.

“Our houseless neighbors are among our most vulnerable community members. As the City creates longer term housing options, this pilot helps address an immediate sanitation need and benefits our entire community,” said Environmental Services Director Mike Jordan.

This pilot program is one of several initiatives the City is pursuing to address Portland’s homeless crisis. Additional related community resources include:

Environmental Services duty officers respond to pollution reports from a variety of sources that affect the City’s storm and sewer system and, ultimately, the health of our rivers and streams. If you see a discharge from any vehicle or other type of pollution from any source such as soap suds, motor oil, or other liquid or leaking waste in the street, call Environmental Services 503-823-7180 or use Report a Spill or Pollution.

The City of Portland Bureau of Environmental Services - your sewer and stormwater utility – provides Portlanders with programs to protect water quality and public health. Services include wastewater collection, treatment, and resource recovery; sewer, stormwater, and green infrastructure construction and maintenance; and stream and watershed restoration.


Pollution Prevention RV Pump Out

Environmental Services
phone number503-865-6884To request an RV pump out

RV Pollution Prevention Program Coordinator

Cindy Ryals