Portland’s Sustainable Stormwater Management


Portland, Oregon, with a city population of 583,000 and over 2 million in the metro area of 145 square miles receives an average annual precipitation total of just over 37 inches.  When this rainfall hits the ground it becomes storm water runoff that the City of Portland has decided to manage in a sustainable way.

Through a set of complimentary and integrated watershed management programs, the Portland Bureau of Environmental Services, which is in charge of wastewater collection and treatment, storm water management, and stream and watershed restoration, has set about the task of sustainable stormwater management.

Portland’s approach to sustainable storm water management assumes that,

“Stormwater management systems that mimic nature by integrating stormwater into building and site development can reduce the damaging effects of urbanization on rivers and streams. Disconnecting the flow from storm sewers and directing runoff to natural systems like landscaped planters, swales and rain gardens or implementing an ecoroof reduces and filters storm water runoff.”  —Sustainable Stormwater

This sustainable approach is supported by research and design conducted by the Water Environment Research Foundation.  For Portland, innovation began in the 1990’s with development of a storm water management plan.  From this came the Downspout Disconnect Program, then came the Clean River Rewards program, a storm water utility discount program in which, “Portland ratepayers can save money and work for clean rivers and healthy watersheds at the same time.”

Other forward-looking storm water management programs include: Green Streets; Portland Ecoroof Program; an Innovative Wet Weather Program; plus storm water retrofit programs, performance monitoring, and tours of showcase projects.  As a result, Portland has become a recognized leader in green storm water management.

Check out what Portland is up to here.

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About Steve Glass

The blogger is a restoration ecologist practicing and writing in the Midwestern United States.
This entry was posted in Green stormwater infrastructure, Rain gardens, Storm water, Stormwater best management practices, Stream restoration, Watershed protection and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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