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The rainy season returns! Adopt your neighborhood storm drain and help prevent street flooding

News Article
Portland’s storm drains, also known as catch basins, help with stormwater runoff and prevent flooding. If drains get clogged with fallen leaves and other debris, it can lead to dangerous ponding along city streets and intersections.
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Illustration of a platypus raking leaves away from a storm drain with the text "Adopt a storm drain"

(Sept. 14, 2021) After an exceptionally dry summer, we’re celebrating the return of rain to Portland this weekend, and with it the return of the Portland Bureau of Transportation’s (PBOT) adopt a storm drain program.

Portland’s storm drains, also known as catch basins, help with stormwater runoff and prevent flooding. If drains get clogged with fallen leaves and other debris, it can lead to dangerous ponding along city streets and intersections. PBOT crews work hard to keep more than 58,000 storm drains clear but with so many, we can’t get to them all. That’s why we're asking Portlanders to adopt storm drains in their neighborhoods to keep them free and clear of leaves.

Before, during, and after: Clearing storm drains helps water flow freely into Portland's stormwater system instead of ponding on city streets. Photos by PBOT.
Before, during, and after: Clearing storm drains helps water flow freely into Portland's stormwater system instead of ponding on city streets. Photos by PBOT.

Follow these tips for clearing storm drains:

  • Use a rake, shovel, or broom. Don't use your hands.
  • Wear gloves. Be careful of sharp objects!
  • Wear reflective clothing so people driving can see you. Watch out for traffic!
  • Only clear drains you can reach from the sidewalk. Don't stand in the street and don’t clear drains that are in the middle of a street.
  • Clear drains before the rain, whenever possible.
  • Clear 10 feet on both approaches to the drain.
  • Watch for standing water to avoid slipping or stepping on sharp objects.
  • Make sure adults are supervising if children are helping.
  • Clear surface debris only. Call PBOT Maintenance Dispatch 24/7 at 503-823-1700 for any emergency hazards or if the drain is still clogged after removing surface debris.
  • Never lift storm drain grates. They are very heavy.
  • Don’t put leaves in the street. Place leaves in your green yard debris roll cart for curbside pickup. If you have too much for the cart, simply use lawn bags and place them next to the roll cart for pickup.
An animated gif of a dog raking leaves with the PBOT logo visible in the corner

If the drain is still clogged after you’ve removed the surface debris, please report it online at www.pdxreporter.org, call our 24/7 maintenance dispatch at 503-823-1700, or email pdxroads@portlandoregon.gov to report it.

Thank you to all Portlanders who have "adopted" storm drains in their neighborhoods and help us keep them free and clear.