Stormwater Management

Why is stormwater important?

When it rains, water washes over roofs, streets, driveways, sidewalks, parking lots, and land surfaces. Along the way it can pick up a variety of pollutants such as oil, pesticides, metals, chemicals, and soil. This polluted stormwater drains into the storm system that eventually discharges into our rivers and streams. The pollutants can endanger the water quality of our waterways, making them unhealthy for people, fish, and wildlife. Managing stormwater can prevent many of the dangerous side effects of runoff and provides an excellent educational opportunity for our students and communities. Check out the list of PPS stormwater projects below:

Stormwater Projects (click name for larger images):
                                         Astor                                          Atkinson                                   Beach                                      

            Bridger                                    DaVinci                                     Fernwood

                                          Forest Park                            George                                    Glencoe     

        Hayhurst                                    Jackson                                        Kelly 

 

        Kenton                                                 Lewis                                      Madison                         

 

                                  Meek                                                        MLC                                    Ockley Green


    
                  Rigler                                 Rosa Parks                         Roseway Heights


   
                Scott                                   Sunnyside                           Tabor   

 

        Woodlawn           

List of projects by type

__________Bioswales__________________







Cisterns








Courtyard Projects
Astor
Grant
Madison
Rigler








Astor








Astor
Bridger
Hayhurst
Meek
Rosa Parks








daVinci








Beaumont
daVinci
Jackson
MLC
Roseway Heights








Woodlawn








Hayhurst
Fernwood
Kelly
Mt. Tabor
Scott

















Madison
Glencoe
Kenton
Rieke
Sunnyside

















Mt. Tabor

     
    ____Downspout Disconnects_____








    EcoRoofs









    Flow Through Planters
    Astor George
    Ockley Green









    Atkinson









    Fernwood
    Atkinson Glencoe
    Peninsula









    Lewis









    George
    Bridger
    Hayhurst
    Rigler









    Lincoln









    Mt. Tabor
    daVinci
    Lewis
    Roseway Heights









    Sunnyside










    Fernwood
    Madison
    Scott




















    Forest Park
    Mt. Tabor
    Woodlawn




















     
    Grassy Swales
         






    ______Parking Lot Retrofits____










    Rain Gardens
    Atkinson
         






    Beach
    Kelly
    Mt. Tabor













    Glencoe
    Beach
         






    Fernwood
    Kenton
    Ockley Green













    Mt. Tabor
    Forest Park
         






    Glencoe
    Madison
    Rosa Parks













    daVinci
    Madison
         






    Grant
    Meek
    Roseway Heights














    Ockley Green










    Jackson
    MLC















    How to start a project:  Contact Project Management. 

    Funding:

    There are many grant opportunities for stormwater projects. Some of the best resources are found in the community. Ask around, there may be small grants offered by an employer of one of the parents within your school. Volunteer labor can cut cost. Check to see if a parent is part of an organization that would like to donate time or other resources. Below are a few of the grants that many PPS projects have used in the past.

    City Grants

     

    Local Government grants

    Non Profit Grants

    Maintenance Strategies

    GreenBucks:

    A new program called GreenBucks is giving Portland sewer ratepayers a way to help public schools in Portland improve water quality and watershed health. Stormwater management facilities like rain gardens, swales, and ecoroofs slow and cool stormwater, and soak it up to keep it out of the sewer system. These facilities are all over Portland, including at many schools that serve Portland students. These facilities are effective in managing stormwater only if they are well maintained. Regular maintenance includes weeding, pruning, mulching, cleaning, repair and irrigation. GreenBucks contributions allow public schools to offset some of these costs.

     Green stormwater facilities:
    • Help schools protect water quality by managing stormwater running off school parking lots and play areas
    • Reduce fees schools pay for stormwater management
    • Green up areas that might otherwise be covered with asphalt
    • Protect city investments in sewer improvement projects

    You Can Help By:
    Checking: the GreenBucks box on your sewer bill.
    Calling: 503-823-7124
    Visiting
    : www.portlandonline.com/bes/index.cfm?c=52708

    In-house Maintenance Strategies at Portland Public Schools:

    • Portland Public Schools (Grounds)
      The district has more than 90 properties but only one full-time grounds keeper. Because of this, priority is given to safety issues and emergency upkeep situations. This leaves little time for general upkeep of school grounds and no time for stormwater projects. During spring and early summer, two additional grounds keepers are brought in to assist with mowing. Out of all the stormwater projects, only 5 are grassy swales that need mowing for maintenance. However, mowing does not address structural damage of the grassy swales, nor does it address other stormwater projects that do not involve mowing.
    •  Community Care Day: Community Care Day is an annual community volunteer event held in August to ready schools for students. The Community Care Day event has gained momentum each year with the help of corporations and non-profits to gain a broad section of community involvement and awareness.  While it is a success, and an essential part of maintaining school landscapes, there are many challenges with this maintenance model. Participation is hard to predict and is inconsistent across the district. No on-site training is available for traditional landscape maintenance, and there is no guidance for working on stormwater management facilities. To be successful, most stormwater projects require scheduled maintenance several times a year rather than a once a year event.
    • Parents
      At several schools parents have volunteered their time along with a wide range of professional skills to work on stormwater projects. Parents have played a crucial role in building stormwater projects as well as the on-going success of these projects at Portland Public Schools. However, there are several variables at each school that may limit parent involvement including: Level of interest and willingness, time commitments, lack of support, construction of new projects, and students changing schools.
      Maintenance of stormwater projects often requires more time than expected. One parent may be able to manage a small stormwater project while larger projects involve more work than any one individual can provide. Without the help of other volunteers this can be an overwhelming task.  Garnering support to build a project takes time and energy, but mobilizing people around continued maintenance can be a challenge. New projects exacerbate this challenge. For this reason, schools may want to break their project into several smaller ones that span several years, educating more students and reaching out to more parents. Some parents may be at the school for several years, but eventually parents change schools as their children move up in grade level and on to new schools.
    • Teachers
      Many teachers are successful leaders and organizers. They are familiar with how the school functions, what resources are available, and how to marshal support for projects. Additionally, they can include student maintenance of stormwater projects as an educational component of their curriculum.  However, maintenance responsibility should not be a primary focus for teachers. Our goal is to enable teachers to use the facilities as teaching and learning opportunities that connects students to the environment. While many teachers have worked hard to support stormwater projects, it is easy for them to become overextended. They must prioritize their time and curriculum to meet educational benchmarks.
    • Students
      Hands on interaction with stormwater projects allow students to develop a sense of ownership while promoting good stewardship. Stormwater projects offer a terrific learning opportunity for students and some maintenance can be bundled with educational activities. Many schools throughout the district have participated in clean-up events, which have enhanced the beauty and functionality of their stormwater project. Metropolitan Learning Center (MLC), has taken a different track, allowing students to earn elective credit for maintenance and monitoring. However, students should not be seen as the primary caretakers of these projects. While some weeding, planting and trash removal can be learning opportunities, too much maintenance becomes a burden.  Interest level and enthusiasm depends on the age of the students. The majority of PPS stormwater projects are located at elementary schools. Although elementary students enjoy hands on experience, some of the maintenance needed throughout the year can be physically challenging and involve tools that are not appropriate for this age group of students to use. Moreover, a greater degree of supervision is needed with elementary grades than older students. Middle and high school students usually do not take interest in maintenance unless it is their project. Several stormwater projects have been started by students; however, once they move on to the next school or graduate, there are few students wanting to maintain it.
    • Utilizing stormwater discount money from the Clean River Rewards Program
      The Clean River Rewards Program (CRR) is a city program that offers a discount for the stormwater portion of the water bill if stormwater is managed on-site. Retro credit was a one-time discount offered to water customers who had installed stormwater facilities before the CRR went into effect. PPS received more than $50,000 in retroactive credits. On-going CRR credits total nearly $60,000. With stormwater separated from sewer and water charges, PPS was able to begin the application process to receive the CRR discount and a CRR retroactive credit.  PPS continues to explore options for funding maintenance, including looking at a mechanism for possibly using the CRR discount to fund a staff position.
    • Municipal Maintenance Strategies: Grants offered through the Bureau of Environmental Services (BES) have funded many stormwater projects at Portland Public Schools (PPS). This partnership demonstrates a commitment by the city and the school district to protect the environment. On-going success and maintenance of stormwater projects is a concern to both the City of Portland and PPS.
      • Bureau of Environmental Services (BES) Re-vegetation Program
        The Re-Vegetation team is composed of city staff who are skilled professional horticulturalists. Work done by the re-vegetation team on stormwater facilities is highly skilled and done on a consistent schedule averaging 4 times a year. They have worked on Glencoe Elementary and Mt. Tabor Middle School. Through contractual arrangement between the Bureau of Environmental Services (BES) and Portland Public School (PPS) the re-vegetation team will perform maintenance at Mt. Tabor for ten years. Once this contract expires PPS will be responsible for the stormwater facilities. The Mt. Tabor Middle School stormwater project serves as a large city funded demonstration project that was installed to address sewer issues throughout the neighborhood.
      • City grant money, Watershed Investment Fund (WIF)
        Not one maintenance solution fits all projects. With city grant money from the Watershed Investment Fund (WIF), Portland Public Schools will continue to look into viable long-term maintenance options. Two maintenance models will be documented. One maintenance model will use volunteers that are guided by an experienced leader and the other will use a professional landscape maintenance crew. Each model will document the type of maintenance needed at the site, as well as approximate hours required and most suitable time of year for maintenance.
        WIF grant maintenance will be performed once in the spring and once in the fall at each site throughout the grant year. Work events will be scheduled and coordinated with each school with the goal of doing the “heavy lifting”—pruning and other labor intensive projects. This will free up schools to focus on the educational opportunities that stormwater facilities provide for students. This work is intended to be supplemental to existing maintenance models at each school and will not replace work done by students, parents and teachers.
    • Non-Profit Maintenance Strategies Several non-profit organizations have helped in maintenance efforts.
      • AmeriCorps Volunteers
        On Martin Luther King Jr. Day, 2008, a group of 10 AmeriCorps volunteers helped clean up stormwater projects at George Middle School and Glencoe Elementary School. Similar clean up events happen periodically throughout the district and are greatly appreciated by the schools and community. The MLK Day clean up is a well-organized day of service for all AmeriCorps volunteers. In order to receive volunteers, someone must fill out an application, have the event approved, and guide volunteers at each site.
      • AmeriCorps Field Teams (EnviroCorps)
        EnviroCorps field teams are volunteers that are not at a dedicated site. They operate by fee for service at various sites and can be hired for the day. Volunteers are trained but service can vary. The Bureau of Environmental Services hired EnviroCorps field team to help clean-up Glencoe Elementary School.
      • Verde
        Verde is a non-profit organization that specializes in maintaining stormwater projects and habitat restoration. They are a historically underutilized enterprise (HUE) in Portland that is creating a niche market for “green collar jobs”. PPS partners with Verde to maintain the majority of our facilities. This partnership allows PPS to assess the condition of each stormwater project and document the number of hours needed to maintain the facilities.
      • SOLV
        SOLV is a non-profit that specializes in providing on-site training to volunteers on habitat restoration projects. They are effective in partnering at specific sites and reach a broad volunteer base. This partnership allows PPS to assess the condition of each stormwater project along with an accurate number of hours needed to maintain the facility and services provided. In addition, SOLV has worked with PPS for many years on a number of stormwater projects, such as, the daVinci watergarden and non-stormwater related projects including Community Care Day.

    Resources

    • Curriculum Resources
      • Non-profits
        • Oregon Trout:  Oregon Trout offers a variety of programs as part of their Healthy Water Institute (HWI). "Successfully launched in fall 2005, HWI invites students to participate in discovery-based watershed experiences through a dynamic toolkit of education programs directly linked to current curricula, state mandated and inquiry-based learning standards."
        • Wise Owl: The Wise Owl website offers online interactive step by step programs that end in hands on activities to educate students on environmental issues.
        • Lower Columbia River Estuary Partnership (LCREP):  Class Programs & Field Trips
          "The Estuary Partnership class programs and field trips are science based, and often include other disciplines such as math, literature, history, art and music. They provide information about all aspects of the lower river, including its biological, chemical, historical, social and economic characteristics. The goal: to provide current information and build student’s curiosity to enable them to make informed decisions about the protection and future of the Columbia River."
      • City, Bureau of Environmental Services (BES)
        • Clean Rivers Education Program
          "Portland's Environmental Services offers free watershed health related classroom and field trip programs within the City of Portland."
      • Web Resources
        • Inforain: Watershed Locator:  Find your school's watershed with GIS maps. This is one of many projects by Ecotrust.
      • Bureau of Environmental Service (BES) resources

    Facts: Stormwater Frequently Asked Questions

    • How does our school get a bioswale/raingarden?
    • How do we get the downspouts on our school disconnected? 
    • Is it easier to disconnect downspouts off of portable units?
    Answers:

    How does our school get a bioswale/raingarden?

    Both Mt. Tabor Middle School and Glencoe Elementary School were funded and built entirely by the City of Portland to address specific drainage problems for their surrounding neighborhood. By installing raingardens and bioswales the City of Portland was able to alleviate sewer back ups and basement flooding with a “green solution” rather than managing the stormwater with a bigger pipe. As a result both schools ended up with award winning stormwater management demonstration facilities.

    These large expensive city projects stand out but they were installed to address problems with the city sewer system. Most of the stormwater projects at Portland Public Schools are much smaller and were funded with city grants. Take a look at some of the resources on the stormwater web pages.

    How do we get the rainwater downspouts on our school disconnected?

    Disconnecting downspouts involves going through a permitting procedure and getting the approval of a project manager. Not all downspouts can be disconnected. School roofs generate a large volume of water even with small increments of rain. Downspout pipes are 4 inches in diameter and only certified plumbers can perform the disconnection. A rough estimate of the cost to disconnect 3 downspouts could be in the range of $4,000. This expense will not be paid for by PPS.

    Choose the project that makes the most sense. Downspouts that you have targeted at your school may go to drywells rather than the sewer. There may be one portion of the building connected to a drywell and another that is hooked into the sewer line. Although bioswales are a preferred form of stormwater management over drywells, it might be of greater benefit to the watershed to first manage runoff that is headed for a sewer line.

    Here are some rough guidelines to consider when looking into possible downspout disconnections:
    * Downspout needs to be at least 2 feet from the building
    * Does the ground have adequate drainage?
    * Have you done an infiltration test?
    * If putting in a bioswale/raingarden/infiltration basin, the deepest spot should be at least 10 feet from the building

    Options to consider:
    * It may be easier to disconnect portable downspouts
    * Parking lots also produce a lot of runoff that can be diverted into a stormwater project.

    Is it easier to disconnect downspouts off of portable units?

    Yes. Portable classroom downspouts are the same dimensions as residential downspouts and they typically do not tie into the sewer system. If the downspout is not connected to the sewer system then no permit is needed from the city. However, PPS would like to be notified if you are intending to do a project. read "how to start a project"