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Willamette River Clean-up

A great river that runs through our hometown has been made into a sewer. Nearly everyone who has spent time on the river is disgusted, but is any effective action being taken?
I'd be very interested in hearing from people who believe that the condition of the Willamette is a disgrace, and who are willing to organize some effective action to restore the river. Portland's sewer system frequently overflows and sends disgusting dreck into the river. Willamette River-keeper ( http://www.willamette-riverkeeper.org/index.html) is one organization that works to attempt to restore the river. Government has clearly failed in its responsibilities to protect the watershed.

I don't have a solution, but would like to know if others would be interested in getting involved in citizen action to protect this vital watershed. If you don't think the problem is critical, take a trip to the foot of the St. John's Bridge and take a deep breath.

homepage: homepage: http://www.willamette-riverkeeper.org/index.html

feature pic 14.May.2003 10:44

pdx indy graphics drone #6082

we should get the kids involved 14.May.2003 11:03

UNITE RESIST Joehell36@aol.com

We should defenetly keep working on the River. kids and comunity member from Around the Enviormentloe Middle school have always seemed to have an interest in cleaning up the river.
i think that SAA could defently get involved. I'm pretty sure that if we got more diverse comunity members involved it would be great.

I really love portland and the WIllamet River, this is a concern that i take to heart. i thinking getting kids involved is a great way to get things done.

unite resist
unite resist

Too Bad 14.May.2003 11:37


Environmental rules have been disabled under both Clinton and Bush. There's limited monies available for Superfund cleanup and many sites are so low on the priority they may never get cleaned up. Of course, you don't see a lot of the responsible parties in a hurry to clean up the Willamette

Denial 14.May.2003 13:24

Dark Woodsman

All of you are in denial about what is really going on. Its quite simple really. Granted, there are numerous pollutants that come from the various town upstream from Portland but the real business happens right here in Stumptown. Portland has at least twice as many people as the sewer system was build for yet the city leaders are more than happy to allow new houses to be built everyday as long you keep voting for them and they keep getting those under-table-kickbacks from the devolpers. Oh, and if your response is that the Combined Sewage Outflow project is somehow going to solve the problem well... it will be obsolete by the time its done so all of your "environmentally sensitve" liberal turds will keep flowing into the Willamette every time it rains...

That's Part of the Problem 14.May.2003 15:09


woodsman; I agree that high density housing favoring developers will impact an overextended sewage flow system, but historical pollution has definitely made the river toxic, especially the sediments.

98% pure 14.May.2003 15:33

yeah right

Sure, the CSO will not completely fix the problem and it is not being advertised as doing so. It will fix over 90% of the sewage that enters the Willamette during high rain events...and that is a worse case scenario. Sewage is the problem and it will be fixed by 2011. There are many places to be frustrated, this isn't one of them.

Gimmeeeee a break... 14.May.2003 18:50

Dark Woodsman

"Sure, the CSO will not completely fix the problem and it is not being advertised as doing so. It will fix over 90% of the sewage that enters the Willamette during high rain events...and that is a worse case scenario. Sewage is the problem and it will be fixed by 2011. There are many places to be frustrated, this isn't one of them."

You must be from city hall but don't try and spread your lies here. The EPA did a study on the Combined Sewage Overflow project or whatever fancy name the Portland politicians gave it and they said it would be obsolete even if it was finished today, nevermind 2008. The fact remains that all growth in the Portland Metro Area should be halted immediately in order to stop the raw sewage from going into the Willamette.

Marshes are the Answer! 14.May.2003 19:21

Biofiltrator apollo_97202@yahoo.com

Has anyone heard of the Arcata Marsh in Humboldt County California? This manmade marsh filters the wastewater of 15,000 people better than a conventional wastewater treatment plant and is located on the site of the old city landfill by the bay. This cost effective project is a tremendous success and attracts tourists from around the world to watch the birds and learn the low-tech solution of biofiltration. It works like this: Solids get filtered out and composted to be used on city projects as fertilizer. Waste water then proceeds through four successive ponds, each of which filters specific toxins and contaminants. Each pond has plants and organisms creating the different biomes needed for effective biofiltration. After going through the fourth pond, the water is released into the bay and is clean enough to drink! And the best part is there are no bad smells from the pond-they look like natural ponds even though they are manmade. The marsh also attracts thousands of migrating birds, is a wildlife sanctuary, and contains trails throughout the sanctuary for recreation and study of the wetland habitat.


Why doesn't Portland convert some of the unused flats down by the river back into marshlands? (can't build on 'em anyway cuz they are in the floodplain) This would provide scenic recreation areas for Portlanders, create habitat for migrating birds while eliminating sewage overflow problems, and could even be designed to provide habitat for spawning fish. I would love to help on this project if anyone else is interested.

Natural Filtration 14.May.2003 20:14


I have heard about that man made marsh that filters the waste of an entire town. Yet another reason to protect natural wetlands which are being destroyed almost more than any other natural ecosystem. Oh yes, by developers - any surprise?

Good Ideas... 14.May.2003 21:34

Dark Woodsman

"Has anyone heard of the Arcata Marsh in Humboldt County California?"

Yeah, I've been by it numerous times and its not such a bad idea. Stinks pretty bad in places but thats a given. I'm wondering if its economically viable to turn human waste into some type of fuel? I know at this point that human waste is being turned into something called "Bio-Sludge" and its being sprayed on crops but as it turns out its full of nasty stuff like antibiotics and numerous other toxins so thats not such a good idea. On the other hand, it is high in nitrates so if there was a cost effective way to process it into fuel maybe that is the answer. I guess one way or another it would have to be burned which would obviously produce some type of pollution so I don't know what the answer is. The human species is the parasite of the earth so its garbage in garbage out right?

compost your poop! 14.May.2003 23:46


it is possible on a small scale to compost your poop and use the resulting compost in your garden. simple: bucket, toilet seat....just add poop and then cover with leaves, sawdust, etc. add to other compost when the bucket is full. it doesn't smell bad either, as long as you cover everything enough (standard with leaves is to cover it enough that you feel comfortable pushing it down with your bare hands). i'm not sure if or how this could be converted to a centralized system, but it can be done in your own home to eliminate waste from going into the system.

maybe it could be part of a wetlands project?

(which, by the way, is also fairly simple to set up in your backyard, to reuse ALL the greywater coming out of your house- it usually works by first having a trashcan/bathtub/whatever full of rocks which the water runs through, then a series of "ponds" which can be trashcans, holes, bathtubs etc with different kinds of reeds and other wetland plants. you set it up so that gravity and overflow moves the water through the different levels, and then into a holding container like a 50 gallon drum- you can link several of them together if you need to- which you then attach a garden hose to.......and then use to water your garden. oh yeah, and be sure to use biodegradable soaps in your house).

the whole point is that past piping water INTO your house, it's pretty simple to eliminate most if not all of your need to have ANYTHING piped back out. part of this does involve altering your lifestyle (maybe not consuming bovine growth hormone laced diary so it doesn't end up in your poop, switching to biodegradable soaps, emptying buckets instead of flushing the toilet etc) but once your system is up and running it can be amazing.

some good diy resources about this stuff: guerilla greywater grrls (girls?) has a pretty intense how-to book, and also check out urban wilds, an awesome book (going into second edition right now!) with good diagrams as well as lots of interviews and stories about people's urban gardening adventures.

alot of the kids i've met in the bay area have some incredible greywater/composting systems going on, and there is even a group called the pollinators (not sure if they're still active?) that went on tour a few years ago around the country teaching people these skills and helping them set up their systems.

Not good... 15.May.2003 13:39

Dark Woodsman

"it is possible on a small scale to compost your poop and use the resulting compost in your garden. simple: bucket, toilet seat....just add poop and then cover with leaves, sawdust, etc. add to other compost when the bucket is full."

I hope you aren't doing this for real...

Do you have any idea how many laws you are breaking, not to mention the danger to the environment and your neighbors? This is how people get really sick with such things as plauge, hepatitis and cholera to name a few. If everyone did this the amount of polluted runoff would be incredible and it would be like the Middle Ages...

fertilizer is...... 16.May.2003 15:02


when you go on down to the garden store and buy yourself some fertilizer, it is: animal poop, bones, blood, etc.

using humanure is NOT inherantly dangerous. if you are putting into your body all kinds of things you wouldn't want in the soil...the question becomes, why would you put in your body something you wouldn't want in your soil, river, etc?

yes, you need to be careful. germs and bacteria grow on things that are decomposing (that is what makes things decompose!). that's why you use saw dust, leaves, etc.......it's the same kind of a formula you use for any kind of compost- part wet (manure, humanure, kitchen scraps, etc) part dry (leaves, sawdust, yard debris etc).

you DO NOT mix this with water, any more than you would mix your normal compost with water. mixing your normal compost with water would result in some pretty damn icky goo running off into your yard, soil, and eventually waterway.

oh yeah and wash your hands.

Are you out of your mind? 16.May.2003 23:47

The Mole

"using humanure is NOT inherantly dangerous."

Yeah, tell that to the thousands of people who die every year of infectious diseases in Third World countries where such a practice is common. Just in case you are from some other planet or something human feces while high in nitrates is not something you should put in your "compost" bin. Also, nature adds the water in the form of rain, which then spreads the germs around.

guerilla greywater grrls 30.Oct.2003 16:22

berkley guerilla plumber mattyfranny@hotmail.com

Nira- how can I find the guerilla greywater grrls? What is their DIY book title? Currently I am w/ an enviromental engineering firm doing very good things w/ wastewater and watershed restoration- we could actually help the situation there- but I want to find out about small-scale greywater use here in the Bay Area. I have installed systems that were not completely adhering to code, but were safe and smart, and would like to continue. I do recommend being very carefull w/ poopoo though. Pardon me if this is not the best forum for obtaining info about these grrls, but I have not seen info on them elsewhere. Thanks