The Big Pipe project was the biggest sewer construction project ever undertaken by the City of Portland. It was built to significantly reduce combined sewer overflows (CSOs).
A combined sewer overflow happens when enough rainwater from street drains and gutter downspouts connected to the sewer system combine with raw sewage and overwhelm the system and force an overflow into the Willamette River and/or Columbia Slough. The City was successful in meeting its goals for the Big Pipe and related projects, which included a 99% reduction in CSOs into the Slough by the year 2000 and a 94% reduction in CSOs into the Willamette River by December 2011.
However, there are areas in the City, most notably in East Portland and the west side, that don’t contribute to CSOs nearly as much as most of Portland. Streets that do not have curb and sidewalk or are unpaved and subsequently have no drain that connects to the sewer system contribute little in comparison to those areas that have that basic safety infrastructure. Furthermore, many of the main streets in East Portland are on sumps and do not contribute rainwater to the sewer system.
If elected, I will request the Bureau of Environmental Services to confirm this, and if found to be true, I will propose a 10% discount on the sewer bill of anyone who has no curb or sidewalk in front of their residence or is on a gravel road and can also show that all downspouts on their property are disconnected from the sewer system.
The discount will not only recognize their contribution to CSOs is negligible, but that they have the additional financial responsibility to maintain their own street as the City, for the most part, only maintains complete streets — those that are paved and have curb and sidewalk.
This document created by Mark White and made possible by the Mark for Portland 2020 campaign.