Portland Bureau of Environmental Services
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News Releases
Statement from Bureau of Environmental Services on enforcement action today regarding joint investigation into unlawful wastewater discharge - 04/19/18



The Oregon State Police, suspecting possible violations of environmental regulations, executed a court-issued search warrant at the Oregon Oils facility located at 2515 NW  28th Avenue today (April 19, 2018). 

The City of Portland is cooperating in that effort because it administers an industrial wastewater discharge permit for the facility.

Today, the City issued a notice of termination effectively suspending the company’s permit to discharge wastewater to the City system.  Because an investigation is ongoing  the City cannot comment on current or past violations to that permit.  

Further questions should be directed to the Oregon State Police’s spokesperson Captain Tim Fox, at (541) 419-8843.

Oaks Bottom Wildlife Refuge  Photo credit: Mike Houck
Oaks Bottom Wildlife Refuge Photo credit: Mike Houck
Oaks Bottom Wildlife Refuge restoration to benefit salmon, wildlife, people; project includes summer-long Springwater Corridor closure (Photo) - 04/18/18

A major restoration project this summer will help bring salmon back to Oaks Bottom Wildlife Refuge, improve habitat for other wildlife and enhance the viewing experience for people. The project involves the closure of a portion of the Springwater Corridor.

Construction begins July 1 and extends through October 31, which is the “in water work window,” the time frame set by the state to minimize impacts to federally-protected threatened salmon.

During those four months, a section of the Springwater Corridor trail will be closed in the area of Oaks Bottom Wildlife Refuge.

To help the public safely navigate this closure, partner agencies today released a bicycle map identifying options on newly improved routes on each side of the river: See www.portlandoregon.gov/bes/oaksbottom.

The map features: *  the Willamette Greenway on the west side which extends from the Sellwood Bridge to South Waterfront and connects to downtown Portland; * the new SE 19th Avenue neighborhood greenway on the east side will be completed this spring and connects to the Tilikum Bridge.  In addition to those newly improved routes, many other options exist in the city’s extensive bicycle network.

“Springwater Corridor is one of Portland’s most popular bicycle and pedestrian trails and Oaks Bottom Wildlife Refuge is a point of pride in a city that values nature,” said Mike Jordan, Environmental Services director. “Project partners wish to notify the public early and often about the summer closure, options for alternate routes, and the importance of the restoration project. The City has enlisted the might and dollars of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to reconnect the river and refuge for native salmon and create healthy habitat for all wildlife that rely on the refuge.”

The habitat restoration project is a collaborative effort between the City of Portland’s Bureau of Environmental Services and Portland Parks & Recreation and the federal United States Army Corps of Engineers, which will manage construction.  The project will remove a small pipe culvert that blocks salmon and replace it with a large open bottom passage that will allow salmon to access the wetland refuge for food and rest from the Willamette River.

During construction, crews commissioned by the Corps will cut open the berm that supports the trail and adjacent railroad tracks, leaving a large gap as crews remove and replace the culvert.

In addition, the project will improve the water flow in the refuge’s tidal slough channels to benefit all wildlife, including the 175 species of birds that use the protected area.  Oaks Bottom Wildlife Refuge, established in 1988, is one of only two wildlife refuges in the city and the largest remaining natural area in the lower Willamette River floodplain. The site is managed by Portland Parks & Recreation.

Crews also will remove invasive plants, build a wildlife viewing platform next to the trail to improve the viewing experience for people and replant the area next spring with 8,500 native trees and shrubs.

The Corps is paying $4.9 million, or 65 percent, of the $8.8 million project cost, with the City paying the remainder.

The Oaks Bottom habitat restoration project is one of a series of collaborative restoration projects between the city and the Corps. The agencies recently restored Westmoreland Park and Crystal Springs Creek, which is now designated a city salmon sanctuary. Next is a major project in Tryon Creek - the agencies have received authorization from Congress but are awaiting funding to remove a culvert that is blocking salmon access to that area’s prime habitat. 

For more information, visit the project website: www.portlandoregon.gov/bes/oaksbottom

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Sewage Advisory: Rags blocking a sewer pipe coupled with heavy rain lead to SW Portland sewage overflow, possibly affecting Tryon Creek - 04/08/18

Sanitary Sewage Release Advisory (this is unrelated to today’s combined sewer overflow [CSO] advisory)

(April 8, 2018) - Rags clogging a sewer pipe coupled with heavy rains caused an unknown quantity of sewage to overflow from a manhole on the 9400 block of  southwest Portland earlier today. The sewage flowed onto the street, into a private yard and possibly reached nearby Tryon Creek. 

As a precaution, the public is advised to avoid contact with Tryon Creek for 48 hours. 

City crews cleared the blockage and restored service about 2 p.m., about four hours after the release is believed to have begun.

Sewage overflows often are preventable. Pipes that become blocked with wipes, debris, grease, and tree roots are the most common cause of sewage overflows. 

Environmental Services advises the public not to flush anything other than human waste and toilet paper. “Flushable” wipes are not flushable and can clog sewer pipes. 

In addition, the public is advised to pour grease into a tin and then when it hardens, place in the trash, not down drains or the compost. Other tips include avoiding putting anything down storm drains, which are intended for rainfall only. 

This sewage overflow is not related to the City of Portland's combined sewer overflow control system.

The Bureau of Environmental Services provides city residents with programs to protect water quality and public health, including wastewater collection and treatment, sewer construction and maintenance, stormwater management, and stream and watershed restoration. www.portlandoregon.gov/bes and @BESPortland.

CSO Alert: Heavy rains lead to combined sewage and stormwater overflows to Willamette River; avoid contact for 48 hours - 04/08/18

Heavy rains caused Portland’s combined sewer system to overflow to the Willamette River around 9:15 a.m. this morning from several outfalls. 

Because of increased bacteria in the water, the public is advised to avoid contact with the river downstream from the Ross Island Bridge for 48 hours after the event ends. The overflows are still continuing. The volume is not yet known. 

Combined sewer overflows (CSOs) are rare and occur during periods of heavy rain or snowfall. A CSO is about 80 percent stormwater and 20 percent sewage. 

Since completing the Big Pipe project in 2011, a 20-year $1.4 billion program to reduce overflows, the number of CSOs have dropped by 94 percent to the Willamette River and 99 percent to the Columbia Slough.  

The Big Pipe project constructed a series of improvements, from disconnecting downspouts on residences to allow rainwater to be absorbed naturally in the ground to the construction of big pipes on both sides of the river and along the slough to store and convey large quantities of flows to the Columbia Boulevard Wastewater Treatment Plant.

Before the project, CSOs occurred to the Willamette River from multiple outfalls an average of 50 times a year, with some instances lasting days. Today, overflows occur an average of four times per winter season and once every three summers.  

This is the first overflow of 2018 and the first since October 22.

Find out more information about CSO events, what they are and why they occur.

The Bureau of Environmental Services provides city residents with programs to protect water quality and public health, including wastewater collection and treatment, sewer construction and maintenance, stormwater management, and stream and watershed restoration. Visit www.portlandoregon.gov/bes and follow us on Twitter  @besportland