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Green Neighborhood: Portland

Portland, Oregon’s Bureau of Environmental Services is in the midst of a multi-year project that is changing the look of a large section of Southeast Portland.  The changes are part of the Tabor to the River program, which will improve storm-water drainage in the Brooklyn Creek Basin, an area with a history of flooding problems.   

DSC_01044.JPGTabor to the River integrates hundreds of sewer, green stormwater management, tree planting and other projects to improve sewer system reliability, stop sewer backups into basements and street flooding, control combined sewer overflows to the Willamette River, and restore watershed health.

Neighborhoods will have more street trees and vegetated swales in the streets to divert storm water.  The Southeast Examiner has the story:

During heavy rainstorms, storm drains sometimes overflow and flood streets. The backed-up water also floods basements by coming up through floor drains. This is the result of old sewer pipes in the area carrying more water than they were originally designed to carry.

Sewer pipes carry both rainwater and household sewage and the project’s central strategy is to remove rainwater from the sewer system, letting it filter into the ground. The strategy’s main element is to build swales, to catch street runoff and let it filter into the ground instead of going into the sewer.

The second element is to encourage building owners to disconnect their downspouts from the sewer and redirect them to areas on their property where the water can soak into the ground.

The third is to plant street trees, which catch some of the rain before it reaches the pavement.

According to program manager Bill Owen, Tabor to River is expected to cost a total of $81 million over 15 years. One previous solution, proposed in 2000, would have replaced many of the sewer pipes in the area with larger pipes at an estimated cost of $144 million. The current plan of diverting water from the sewer system will save $63 million over the previous plan.

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