Storm damage recovery

UPDATE: City's largest sewage pump station repaired, in full service

Press Release
Crews are working around the clock to keep essential sewage infrastructure operating as the freezing temperatures trigger multiple impacts.
Large pipes marked with a sign that says sewage. Pipes are painted brown and contained in a large building with other smaller pipes and panels
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This is an update to yesterday’s news release. The update is below, followed by the original news release. 

Environmental Services crews have repaired the city’s largest wastewater pump station, restoring it to full service. There have been no impacts to the public from this event. Environmental Services used the Big Pipe system - large pipes on either side of the Willamette River - to store the flow while repairs were underway. The pump station is now directing that flow to where it belongs - the City’s main wastewater treatment plant in North Portland. 

In addition, further investigation found that only one home - not an estimated dozen - was affected when a backup generator froze yesterday at a pump station on E. Burnside Street and 105th Avenue.  

Crews continue to respond to the impacts from power outages as needed, and make repairs to other infrastructure impacted by freezing temperatures. 

“I want to send a big thank you to Environmental Serices and all public works crews and our partner agencies for their diligent efforts. They are working around the clock to keep our city functioning as we face this extreme weather,” said City Public Works Commissioner Mingus Mapps. “I’m grateful our pump station is back up and operational without impacts to the public.”

Original news release sent Jan. 14, 2024  

Winter weather impacts: City’s largest sewage pump station at limited service due to low temperatures; other essential infrastructure affected by icy weather

The City of Portland Bureau of Environmental Services is reporting that due to weather-related impacts, crews are working around-the-clock at multiple locations to make emergency repairs and prevent sewage releases to people’s homes, businesses, and the environment. 

Currently, the city’s largest sewage pump station, which serves downtown and the surrounding inner city, is under partial service due to a frozen pipe. At this time there is no public impact. 

Environmental Services has been able to continue service to homes and businesses and prevent sewage overflows to properties and the Willamette River by using the Big Pipe system to store sewage while those pump station repairs are underway. People can follow the Big Pipe Tracker to see how much is being stored and how full the system is. 

While the Big Pipe system is storing that sewage, crews are racing to make repairs to the pump station  by Tuesday night, ahead of forecasted rain and snowmelt on Wednesday. 

In the unlikely event that repairs take longer than anticipated, Environmental Services may issue a call for residents to limit flushing and dishwashing to allow for less flow into the system.  That is not likely, and repairs are anticipated to be complete by Tuesday night

Meanwhile, crews have also worked to maintain sewage service citywide as freezing temperatures triggered power outages that impacted the city’s main wastewater treatment plant and some of Portland’s 99 sewage pump stations. Those pump stations in every neighborhood ensure that sewage is safely sent from to the city’s main treatment plant. Environmental Services crews have been responding to outages and deploying portable generators and heaters to keep those pump stations operating. 

The only significant impact to date occurred when a backup generator at one pump station, near E Burnside Street and 105th Avenue, froze yesterday, sending sewage into about a dozen homes. Crews restored service around 2 a.m. and are helping homeowners on cleanup. 

In addition, the City’s main wastewater treatment plant itself experienced a power outage on Friday night after a truck collided with a power pole in North Portland. Crews worked overnight on emergency repairs to maintain service and prevent damage to the plant. 

Environmental Services will continue to keep the public updated. 

About Environmental Services
Environmental Services - the City of Portland’s sewer and stormwater utility - protects public health and environment by collecting and recovering resources from the city’s wastewater, managing stormwater, and restoring and protecting Portland’s rivers, streams, and watersheds.


Diane Dulken

Public Information Officer