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Portland has a history of implementing stormwater source controls such as infiltration and detention systems, and more recently, water quality facilities. In the last decade the emphasis has shifted in terms of the types of technologies being applied: the Bureau is now making green systems a preferred approach, particularly where treatment and detention are required, but also for disposal. These green technologies, from landscape infiltration systems, planters, and pervious pavement to green roofs, manage runoff but also provide a range of additional benefits for the urban environment. They are particularly well suited for the rainfall pattern in Portland, where most rainfall occurs in relatively low-intensity storms.

The City's Stormwater Management Manual now directs developers and City designers to give highest priority to keeping stormwater on-site through infiltration. Runoff from roofs can still be managed with traditional drywells and soakage trenches, but runoff requiring treatment or detention (e.g. from parking lots) must be managed with green systems to the maximum extent practical. The City is also beginning to apply green solutions where they're cost effective as retrofits to help to address sewer backups. Finally, the City's long-term CSO goals depend on the success of green solutions: the CSO program is a blend of infrastructure – tunnels, pipes, pump stations – and green solutions such as downspout disconnections, green streets, and parking lot swales at large stormwater sources such as schools and churches.

The City's emphasis on green solutions, primarily landscape systems, is the result of two events: 1) the advent of a number of Federal and State regulatory mandates concerning the management of water resources, and 2) the City's response to those multiple mandates, which is to organize and prioritize its actions within a watershed plan that emphasizes overall watershed health.

This presentation will outline why and how Portland's Bureau of Environmental Services is incorporating green solutions to address its regulatory requirements and to protect overall watershed health. This paper includes an overview of the types of technologies being adopted by the City, as well as what programmatic effort and resources have been required to bring them into the City's “toolbox” of stormwater management technologies. The paper will describe the Bureau's current focus areas, and conclude with a brief summary of three projects.

This paper is presented in conjunction with three papers by other BES staff concerning the incorporation of green solutions into standard practices.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2007-01-01

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