The Difference Between the Sanitary Sewer and Stormwater System
All drains are the same, right? Not quite.
The sanitary sewer and stormwater systems are two different pieces of infrastructure, and it’s important to understand their differences.
- Sanitary sewer: The vital network of pipes and pump stations that transport wastewater from households and businesses to wastewater treatment facilities.
- Stormwater system: The system of storm drains, pipes, ditches, outfalls, natural areas, and green streets that collect and hold rainwater runoff and other drainage to soak into the ground or carry it to a stream, river, or treatment facility.
Maintenance, operations, construction, and additional services that support the sanitary sewer and stormwater system are funded through rates and charges on your water, sewer, and stormwater bill.
How Rates and Charges are Allocated
Every dollar of your sanitary sewer and stormwater charges pays for the following:
|Capital Improvement Program
|Operation and Maintenance
Capital Improvement Program: $0.38
About one-third of Portland’s public sewer and stormwater pipes are more than 80 years old. Capital Improvement Program projects repair or replace aging pipes and help protect people, property, and the environment.
Debt Service: $0.20
Debt service are payments on previously completed projects, such as The Big Pipe Project, an ambitious set of actions and improvements that eliminated most combined sewer overflows to the Willamette River and Columbia Slough.
Operation and Maintenance: $0.32
Running the sanitary sewer and stormwater systems requires year around work. Rates and charges help fund the operations and maintenance of the pipes, ditches, culverts, sumps, maintenance holes, pollution control facilities, and wastewater treatment facilities. This essential work keeps the wastewater treatment process running smoothly, manages stormwater to reduce flooding risks and improve water quality, and recovers and converts waste materials into valuable products.
Other Expenditures: $0.10
Other expenditures that are necessary for service functions include:
- Payments to the general fund
- Pension obligation bond payments
- Portland Harbor Superfund
Understanding Your Rates and Charges
Your sanitary sewer and stormwater charges and rates are based on the cost of providing the services outlined on this page. View the rates and charges page for more information on how your rates are calculated.