City officials say Portland’s combined sewer system overflowed into the Willamette River Tuesday morning, after Monday night’s rain. Storm water routinely forces sewage into the river, when at least one-tenth of an inch of rain falls per hour.
The city is in the final year of a 20-year construction effort to build a set of huge underground pipes to keep waste out of the river. City spokesman, Linc Mann, says that work is finished on the west side — and kept sewage from entering the Willamette from the west.
“There was nowhere near enough rain to cause the Westside Big Pipe to overflow. But the eastside Big Pipe, although it has finished construction, it has not been activated. It will be in the fall, this fall. And until that happens, we will continue to have overflows, combined sewer overflows, from the east side of the river,” Mann said.
Mann says all the combined sewers and additional pump facilities are expected to be running by December. He says overflows are already a lot smaller than they used to be.
Still, city officials advise against making direct contact with the Willamette — and thoroughly cleaning whatever touches the river.
Combined Sewer Overflows
West Side Big Pipe
East Side Big Pipe