Implementation Progress Report: Working for Clean Rivers


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Director, Portland Bureau of Environmental Services

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  • Cities and utilities have a critical role in restoring Willamette River health Portland has controlled combined sewer overflows to the river. Portland is a leader in using green infrastructure to manage stormwater, protect water quality and restore watershed health Portland works with many partners including other jurisdictions, non-profit and neighborhood groups and private property owners
  • In 1991, the City of Portland started working on a 20-year program to control combined sewer overflows to the Willamette River and Columbia Slough The city successfully completed the CSO program in December 2011 It took 20 years and cost Portland sewer ratepayers $1.4-billion It was the largest public works program in the city’s history This photo is from the March 2007 christening ceremony for the 25-foot cutterhead that constructed the East Side CSO tunnel
  • The CSO program began with simple, relatively low-cost projects to remove stormwater from the combined sewer system. The most successful cornerstone project was downspout disconnection and this slide shows student volunteers working on a downspout disconnection project. The city offered incentives and technical help to encourage property owners to disconnect roof drains from combined sewers and we were able to disconnect downspouts at more than 54-thousand properties. In specific neighborhoods, the city also constructed separate storm sewers. Stream diversion projects removed relatively clean stream flow from combined sewers. In areas with the proper drainage, the city installed sumps and sedimentation manholes to manage stormwater. Cornerstone Projects keep more than two billion gallons of stormwater runoff out of the combined sewer system annually.
  • Construction of larger, more complex facilities to convey and treat combined sewage began with the 3.5-mile long Columbia Slough Big Pipe The Columbia Slough Big Pipe went into service in 2000 and reduces CSOs to the slough by more than 99 percent The 3.5-mile, 14-foot diameter West Side Big Pipe and the Swan Island CSO Pump Station followed in 2006. And last Decmeber the city activated the largest of all CSO construction projects, the six-mile long, 22-foot diameter East Side Big Pipe. This slide shows the East Side Big Pipe cutterhead being removed from the Big Pipe at the end of the project
  • Before the Willamette River tunnel system was in operation, Portland’s combined sewers overflowed to the river on average about 50 times per year Each CSO event lasted on average about two days With the tunnel system CSOs are reduced to no more than four each winter and one every three summers The result is a significant reduction in bacteria in the river which is renewing interest in recreational opportunities on the river
  • In summer 2011 and 2012, hundreds of people took advantage of good weather and much improved water quality to participate in the annual Big Float Tri-athletes swim in the Willamette during the annual Portland Triathlon And the Portland Bridge Swim has become an annual event with athletes swimming 11 miles from the Sellwood Bridge to the St. Johns Bridge
  • Portland adopted its Watershed Management Plan in 2005 It is the framework for the approach the city uses to evaluate watershed conditions and implement projects to improve watershed health. Our goal is to protect natural resources, restore critical ecosystems, and implement stormwater solutions that integrate the urban area with the natural environment.
  • The East Lents Floodplain Restoration project is a good example of a watershed restoration project with multiple benefits The 70-acre project is just east of I-205 and south of SE Foster Road between SE 106th and SE 110th avenues To make this project possible, the city established a willing seller prorgram and over 16 years purchased 84 parcels and helped 60 property owners move away from flood areas to clear the way for construction. The project removed more than 50,000 cubic yards of soil to reconnect the creek with its floodplain, and planted 90,000 trees and shrubs Johnson Creek used to flood Foster Road about every other year, but this project reduces local flood frequency by at least 50% The work also improves habitat for native salmon and other fish and wildlife and protects water quality in Johnson Creek
  • Portland is a national leader in using green infrastructure (clockwise from the top left) SW 12 th Avenue Green Street, ecoroofs at the south riverfront, the Glencoe School rain garden, a wetland in the River View Natural Area Natural systems or facilities that function like natural systems manage stormwater at its source These approaches treat stormwater as the resource it is rather than disposing of it as a waste Green streets and rain gardens treat stormwater runoff and allow it to soak into the ground to replenish groundwater supplies Ecoroof absorb rain to reduce runoff. They also help cool the air, insulate buildings and provide habitat for birds and insects Natural areas provide habitat and green spaces and help manage stormwater runoff
  • The city has a unique role in Portland Harbor We are stewards of the river working to restore and protect it The Bureau of Environmental Services also acts as a regulator to protect water quality And the City is also a potentially responsible party for the sediment contamination in Portland Harbor The city’s goal is to ensure that the cleanup is done cooperatively with our many partners, is efficient and cost-effective, and that it effectively improves river health
  • Minto-Brown Island is south of downtown Salem on the southeast side of the Willamette. Its location between Ankeny Wildlife Refuge and Willamette Mission State Park, makes Minto Island a high priority conservation area important for the significant habitat it provides for federally listed salmon and steelhead. Salem’s nearly 900-acre Minto-Brown Island Park takes up most of the island and is managed primarily as a natural resource area. Boise-Cascade owns the remaining 300 acres are owned by Boise-Cascade - 100 acres once used for industrial waste disposal has been cleared by the DEQ and 200 acres are undisturbed. Through a $1.3 million funding partnership with ODFW and others, the City of Salem is trying to acquire easements on these 300 acres to protect and restore their ecological function.
  • “ Talking Water Gardens” is a partnership with the cities of Albany and Millersburg and metals manufacurer ATI This $13.8-million, 50-acre project is an engineered treatment wetland that lowers the temperature of discharge into the Willamette and decreases nutrient levels Wetland pools, floating wetland vegetation, waterfalls and weirs intercept, aerate, and oxygenate the wastewater. These features also provide open-water habitat and a community recreational resource that has become a destination for walking, wildlife watching and environmental education. Albany is also working with the Calapooia Watershed Council to restore the nearby confluence of Cox Creek, which incluces restoring native plans and removing the Cox Creek dam.
  • Delta Ponds is a City-owned natural area in the heart of Eugene. Before levees were built, the Willamette flowed through this area every winter, providing side-channel habitat for fish and wildlife. In the 1950s and 60s the Delta Ponds were mined for gravel, leaving behind a series of shallow ponds in the old channel. Reconnecting these ponds to the river and a nearby slough is re-creating 2 miles of side channel habitat needed by juvenile salmon. The project also will improve water quality, enhance habitat for other wildlife such as Western pond turtles and neotropical birds, and provide recreational and wildlife viewing opportunities for the community.
  • Implementation Progress Report: Working for Clean Rivers

    1. 1. Portland and Representative other Oregon Cities Willamette River Restoration Dean Marriott, Director Bureau of Environmental Services City of Portland December 11, 2012
    2. 2. Willamette River Restoration in Portland• Many cities work to restore river health• CSO control, green infrastructure, watershed health• Partnerships are important
    3. 3. Willamette River CombinedSewer Overflow (CSO) ControlEast Side CSO tunnel boring machine christening ceremony March 23, 2007
    4. 4. Cornerstone Projects• Downspout Disconnection• Stream Diversion• Sewer Separation• Sump Installation• Remove more than two billion gallons of stormwater annually
    5. 5. CSO Construction Projects• Columbia Slough Big Pipe• West Side Big Pipe and Swan Island CSO Pump Station• East Side Big Pipe
    6. 6. CSO Volume ReductionCSO events reduced from about 50 per year to no more than four per winter and one every third summer
    7. 7. Rediscovering the River 2011 Big Float
    8. 8. Watershed ManagementWillamette, Johnson Creek, Columbia Slough and Fanno Creek, Tryon Creek watersheds
    9. 9. East Lents Project• Floodplain restoration project on Johnson Creek• Increases flood storage to reduce nuisance flooding• Restores habitat, improves water quality
    10. 10. Green InfrastructureGreen streets, ecoroofs, rain gardens, natural areas
    11. 11. Portland Harbor Program• EPA designated Portland Harbor a Superund site in 2000• City is part of the Lower Willamette Group along with the Port of Portland and private firms• Cleanup costs are unknown until EPA releases its Record of Decision
    12. 12. Other Community Efforts Willamette Basin
    13. 13. City of Milwaukie photo by Andrew ByrneRiverfront Park development, Johnson CreekConfluence project, Kellogg-to-Coho Initiative
    14. 14. City of SalemMinto Brown Island Restoration and Reconnection
    15. 15. City of AlbanyTalking Water Gardens
    16. 16. City of Eugene Delta Ponds