RiverViews, Fall 2021

Photo looking upstream of a creek with trees on both sides. Text over the top says: We're all connected. Text in a dialogue bubble says: Find out how you're connected. RiverViews publication title in the bottom left corner over a blue graphic wave.
RiverViews is a newsletter from the Bureau of Environmental Services — your sewer and stormwater services provider. In this issue, Environmental Services would like to reconnect with you about how we can all work together to protect public health, water quality, and the environment.

During the past year and a half we’ve all learned how important connection is.

Photo shows kayakers on the Willamette River. A small dialogue bubble in the corner says: Let's reconnect.

We at Environmental Services would like to reconnect with you—about what we do, the services we provide, and how we all can work together to protect public health, water quality, and the environment.

In case you don’t already know us…

Photo shows two construction workers positioning a new manhole base that is being lowered into a excavated hole in the ground.

Environmental Services collects and treats wastewater in the city, constructs and maintains the public sewer system, manages stormwater, and restores streams and watersheds.

We work to keep Portland’s rivers and streams clean and cold, reduce pollution to our rivers and streams, reconnect salmon to habitat that has been blocked for decades, and restore natural areas that connect fish, wildlife, and people.

Over the long term, these activities will help buffer the city from the effects of climate change and make our communities more resilient. 

It's all about connection.
Our projects connect people with nature, fish and wildlife with habitat, and the past with the future

Connecting salmon to cool, clean, healthy habitat – Crystal Springs Creek Restoration

Photo shows a creek lined with trees and tree rootwads in the creek. A small circular inset photo shows the head of a salmon.
After more than a decade of work, nearly half of Crystal Springs Creek has been restored through culvert removal projects by Environmental Services and our partners. Now, fish and wildlife can connect with habitat blocked for decades.

Crystal Springs Creek is a major tributary to Johnson Creek in Southeast Portland. Only 2.4 miles long, the creek provides habitat for coho and Chinook salmon, steelhead trout, and many species of birds and wildlife. It is spring fed, so it is naturally cool and has steady flow all year. That makes it ideal for juvenile salmon looking for places to hide and feed. Together with our partners, Environmental Services has replaced nine culverts along the creek and restored habitat so salmon can once again access this area.

Creating better connections for fish, wildlife, and people – SW Boones Ferry Bridge and Restoration Project

Photo shows a bridge over a free-flowing creek with rocky streambed. Small circular inset photo shows a culvert with water rushing out into muddy, frothy pool.
A new bridge replaces an old culvert at Boones Ferry Road to help reduce flooding, restore habitat, and create important connections for fish, wildlife, and people.

Tryon Creek is one of Portland’s healthiest streams, but a culvert at Boones Ferry Road blocked native fish. Also, the culvert was too small to handle large amounts of water during storms, which caused erosion and maintenance issues. Environmental Services with its partners replaced the culvert with a bridge to help reduce flooding and restore access to prime habitat for the fish. Now, cutthroat trout and other wildlife can easily pass upstream and down, while a new pedestrian path under the bridge provides a safer connection for people crossing Boones Ferry Road to connect with local trails.

Connecting past and future for clean rivers – Major improvements to the City’s largest wastewater treatment plant

Photo shows aerial view of wastewater treatment plant campus with a large part of the north end highlighted as the project area. A small, circular inset photo shows aerial view of same space in 1950s.
The Columbia Boulevard Wastewater Treatment Plant first opened in the 1950s (inset) and has been in operation every hour of every day since. A large portion of the plant is undergoing much needed improvements.

Where does all our wastewater go? Most of it travels through thousands of miles of pipes to the Columbia Boulevard Wastewater Treatment Plant in North Portland. Since the plant first opened in 1952, it has been operating 24/7/365 to serve our community and protect the water in our rivers and streams.

Now the plant that we all rely on is getting some major, necessary improvements to help it meet future needs for wastewater and stormwater treatment in Portland. Construction started this summer and continues through 2024.

The project will expand the plant’s secondary treatment system by adding two new clarifiers on the plant’s campus and will replace aging buildings that have been in operation since the 1970s. The new facilities will be more energy efficient, environmentally responsible, and healthier for our essential workers.

Financial Assistance –
Connecting you to programs that can help

Graphic shows several dialogue bubbles with words: Need more time to pay your bill? We can help. 503-823-7770 in multiple languages.

Environmental Services and the Portland Water Bureau have programs to help people pay their sewer, stormwater, and water bills.

What might you qualify for?

  • Payment arrangements—for people who need extra time to pay their bill.
  • Bill discounts, crisis vouchers, and water leak repairs—for single-family residences that meet income requirements and enroll in our financial assistance program.
  • Assistance for people in multifamily housing—for apartment dwellers who pay for sewer, stormwater, and water as part of their rent, are at risk of eviction, and meet income requirements.
  • Clean River Rewards—for households where rainwater soaks into the ground on the property, instead of running off into the storm drain or street.

Find more information at 503-823-7770, PWBCustomerService@portlandoregon.gov, or online.

Wherever we go in Portland, we’re connected.

Photo shows four students proudly displaying the curb marker they just installed in front of a storm drain.
Portland Public Schools students place markers at storm drains near their school to remind the community that only rain goes down storm drains to protect our rivers and streams.

Our homes and businesses, streets and sidewalks, schools, stores, and parking lots—they are all connected to the sewer and stormwater systems.

As you go through your day, here are some simple actions you can take to help keep the whole system working well:

  • Stick to the 3 Ps: Only toilet paper, pee, and poo can safely go down the toilet. Other items clog sewers and cause basement  backups and sewage overflows. Yuck!
  • Report pollution going to rivers, streams, or storm drains. Call 503-823-7180.
  • Plant native trees, shrubs, and ground covers. They help filter pollution, reduce stormwater runoff,and grow well.
  • Become a Green Street Steward. Volunteer to help keep green streets working for clean rivers. Learn more.

24-hour emergency hotlines

  • 503-823-1700 – sewer odors, sewer overflows, street flooding, street issues
  • 503-823-7180 – slicks or spills, suspicious discharges to waterways, dumping into storm drains

Environmental Services manages Portland’s wastewater and stormwater infrastructure to protect public health and the environment. Learn more about us.

We are committed to providing meaningful access. To request translation, interpretation, modifications, accommodations, or other auxiliary aids, please call 503-823-7740 or Oregon Relay Service 711.

Traducción e Interpretación   |   Biên Dịch và Thông Dịch   |   अनुवादन तथा व्याख्या   |   口笔译服务   |   Устный и письменный перевод   |   Turjumaad iyo Fasiraad   | Письмовий і усний переклад   |   Traducere și interpretariat   |   Chiaku me Awewen Kapas |  Translation and Interpretation:  503-823-7740