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Mayor’s office releases new video on green streets

Posted by on March 18th, 2010 at 5:18 pm

Portland Green Streets from Mayor Sam Adams on Vimeo.


Mayor Sam Adams’ office has just released a new video that explains “green streets.” The video features Adams’ transportation policy director Catherine Ciarlo giving a short primer on how the bioswale features on SE Clay near 12th impact the perception of safety and the movements of vehicles around the intersection.

It’s good to see more information about green streets coming out of the Mayor’s office — it’s just too bad they didn’t have this sort of communications piece ready before Adams introduced his $20 million green street/bike boulevard funding plan. If so, they might have helped quell some of the bad PR and “Don’t use my sewer money for bike lanes!” backlash that ensued.

With passage of the $20 million plan yesterday, we can expect to be hearing a lot more about green streets from the Bureau of Transportation in the months to come.

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  • ecohuman March 18, 2010 at 5:36 pm

    The video features Adams’ transportation policy director Catherine Ciarlo giving a short primer on how the bioswale features on SE Clay near 12th impact the perception of safety and the movements of vehicles around the intersection.

    The bioswale has nothing to do with vehicle movement. That’s the *CURB EXTENSION*. In other words, extending the curbs on all four corners, not the plants behind them, are the (supposed) traffic changer.

    The critical point here–and one that you, Jonathan, and even the City Council isn’t going to address–is: how much do bioswales actually make a difference?

    The answer makes everybody uncomfortable, because it’s “not much”. They *look* good. They do *a little*. 1,000 bioswales of the size in the video, situated all over Portland, would have a negligible impact on actual stormwater entering water bodies.

    Are they useful? Of course. But that’s not enough.

    And I wonder: since you’re reporting on this issue closely, why aren’t you also reporting on the financial and ethical points of the debate, rather than just dismissing them as unimportant? That’s one example of why you’re rarely taken seriously outside of “bicycle world”. Broaden your perspective, Jonathan. Listen to bicyclists (I’m one) who see something larger and more troubling going on in City Hall.

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  • VS March 18, 2010 at 5:49 pm

    ecohuman: how do you know that the bioswales don’t do much?

    I live downtown in a newer building, where the entire block face was retrofitted with bioswales. It’s on a hill, so on a rainy day the amount of water flowing into the swales is actually pretty amazing. It’s actually quite nastiating thinking that this exact amount of water is also flowing into storm/sewer drains in the rest of downtown. The city-supported infrastructure for stormwater management is a multi-million dollar endeavor every year. Imagine if just half of the stormwater from city streets could be off set through the use of bioswales. That’s a lot of new pipe that won’t need to be laid, and a leg up for preventing further water degradation in the pacific northwest.

    Anyway, certainy in these smaller neighborhoods it may just look like a tiny little band aid, but when you look at how much water trickles down those storm drains, it adds up. Case in point: have you ever had a leaky faucet and placed a pan underneath to capture the water for tea, only to have it overflowing in an hour?

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  • Perry March 18, 2010 at 7:24 pm

    Golly, maybe the views of an authority on the subject are called for.

    One swale doesn’t do much, but hundreds? Well, that dog will hunt.

    I’m just guessing here, but I’d say it’s a safe bet that the bioswales as described are cheaper per gallon of runoff treated over their lifetime than a sewage treatment plant. Also, sewage treatment does nothing to remediate the loss of surface water penetration caused by pavement. I’d also wager that it’s cheaper to fill in the CURB EXTENSION with the bioswale than it is with more pavement.

    To me, it looks like a good way to deal with several problems at once. Run with it, Sam.

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  • bob March 18, 2010 at 8:11 pm

    I am interested in the first comment’s backing information. Can you please point to supporting data?
    They do look good. Despite my street being torn up for weeks, I am still happy they are being installed. The informational signs I’ve read at demo sites seem logical. How much maintenance do bioswales need? Do the plants and soil soak it in then die off? I don’t have a problem with the curb extensions as it brings speed and distance down to human scale. So what is the argument against, exactly?

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  • Anonymous March 18, 2010 at 8:18 pm

    20 millions are a lot of money. They could use that extra fund to improve or repair sewer works around Portland. But the city wants to spend it for other purposes than sewer. That upsets some people. I should not complain about it cuz I don’t live in Portland. Come on Portlanders you need to speak up.

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  • bob March 18, 2010 at 8:36 pm

    Okay, so thanks to Perry (comment 2) it looks like according to DEQ, the bioswales need to be monitored and cleaned at varying levels seasonally then every 3-5 years and have a life expectancy of 20 years. How is this worse than what we have now? The financial and ethical parts mentioned in comment #1 appear to have been covered here by the editor yesterday:
    http://bikeportland.org/2010/03/17/commissioner-fritz-in-full-support-of-20-million-kickstart/
    …so we’d each save $.90/yr if the BES savings were redistributed to taxpayers? I don’t get the “debate”. Those who got elected made decisions that upset those that didn’t vote for them? Is that a surprise? I didn’t vote for any of them and the bioswale/curb extension/greenstreets still seem like a pretty clever idea. Shit, depave the whole place and build houses with the concrete, I’ve got a sturdy bike.

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  • spare_wheel March 18, 2010 at 8:44 pm

    “1,000 bioswales of the size in the video, situated all over Portland, would have a negligible impact on actual stormwater entering water bodies.”

    1) Not all bioswales are small.

    2) Levels of contamination are far more important than liquid volume.

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  • Charley March 18, 2010 at 10:02 pm

    I have no problem with the idea that City Hall would like to use one stone to kill two birds. But I’m not sure how I feel about one of the birds they’re killing: those curb extensions make it a squeeze for cyclists at intersections. I mean, look at the size of that little mini-bike lane in the video. Squeeze in there next to a big truck?

    For example, the recent addition of a curb extension on a road I ride often (N Denver, northbound through Kenton) obliterates what was a nice bike lane. Instead of having a bike lane through two blocks of busy streets, now I have to merge back with traffic, while I’m heading up hill, after stopping at a stop sign. So, instead of having plenty of room to get back up to speed, I need to jump off the line and sprint up past the curb, so that cars following me at the intersection don’t tailgate me or harass me. So how is this an improvement? How is less room an improvement?

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  • Paul Cone March 19, 2010 at 8:44 am

    Hey anonymous, take a gander on BES’s website and check out how much they’ve spent on stormwater treatment lately. Or I can just tell you — over a BILLION dollars. Now ask yourself again, what’s $20 mil for a project that treats stormwater AND makes it safer for people?

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  • matt picio March 19, 2010 at 9:47 am

    Anon (#5) – 20 millions is pocket change. As Paul Cone said, the Big Pipe project is over 1000 millions (hat tip to the non-US English speakers), and that project is meant to separate stormwater from sewer to prevent raw sewage overflows into the river. Stormwater projects like bioswales that prevent water from entering the combined system to begin with are much more economical and much better for the environment. These projects are stormwater projects that can be slightly modified at no extra cost to provide additional benefits to bikes and pedestrians. If we can take an existing project, funded with existing funds, and multipurpose it – shouldn’t we? Isn’t efficient spending one of our goals?

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  • ecohuman March 19, 2010 at 9:50 am

    I don’t get the “debate”. Those who got elected made decisions that upset those that didn’t vote for them? Is that a surprise?

    I’ll make it simple for you: Currently, the city plans a 7% sewer rate INCREASE–while at the same time planning to rob a so called “surplus” and use it for bike lane/bioswale boutique efforts. While a list of hundreds of necessary, fundamental sewer repairs and upgrades go unfunded.

    Got that? Sewer rates going up. Basic infrastructure projects with immediate consequences going unfunded. “Surplus” funds that could be used to meet basic projects instead being hijacked for an “innovative” bike lane/bioswale concept. Projects remain undone. Sewer system continues to degrade. Basements flooding right now, today. Treatment systems degrading right now, today.

    For example:
    http://www.oregonlive.com/portland/index.ssf/2010/03/purb_slams_portland_city_counc.html

    Golly, maybe the views of an authority on the subject are called for.

    I agree. Read the document you just linked to– the whole thing. It’s clear you didn’t.

    I’m just guessing here, but I’d say it’s a safe bet that the bioswales as described are cheaper per gallon of runoff treated over their lifetime than a sewage treatment plant.

    Then you fundamentally misunderstand what those two things (bioswales and sewage treatment plants) actually are, and do.

    2) Levels of contamination are far more important than liquid volume.

    Wrong. Both are important, because both must be addressed at the same time, and are related. Ability to treat contamination is closely related to the volume itself, and vice versa. In fact, if anything, volume is more important, because volume is the main problem when rains come and impervious surface runoff has nowhere to go but down a drain–and has to go quickly to prevent flooding. That “first flush” is the dominant problem, and contamination is the longer-term problem. Only huge bioswales (and I mean *huge*) are meaningfully effective at treating contaminants of large runoff volumes.

    Folks, the issue isn’t whether bioswales work. They do. The actual issue is two fold: a fiscal screwing over, and the overall misunderstanding of how a bioswale on the sidewalk actually fits into the larger picture of stormwater management. What you’re doing is buying into a tri-fold brochure version of what’s really happening; hoping that if only you can prove bioswales are good so the project will seem good is entirely missing the point.

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  • Paul Cone March 19, 2010 at 9:56 am

    Who is to decide that preventing the flooding basements is more important that preventing more bicyclists from being killed on our roads?

    And I feel fiscally screwed over every time I get my sewer bill. As all the editorials AGAINST this passing have pointed out, we already have one of the highest sewer rates in the land.

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  • ecohuman March 19, 2010 at 10:14 am

    Who is to decide that preventing the flooding basements is more important that preventing more bicyclists from being killed on our roads?

    I’m confused. How do small bioswales next a sidewalk prevent bicycle deaths?

    Or are you unclear of the difference between “bioswale” and “curb extension”?

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  • Paul Cone March 19, 2010 at 10:30 am

    No ecohuman, I’m not unclear, and I know what I’m talking about, because I work with the folks who design and build them. It’s not the bioswale itself that prevents deaths — it’s the curb extension and the related pieces that are part of the whole project. It’s holistic. Maybe you should take a break from reading about sewage treatment plants and look at the designs…
    http://bikeportland.org/2010/03/17/20-million-bike-plan-kickstart-on-the-table-at-city-council-today/

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  • ecohuman March 19, 2010 at 10:48 am

    t’s not the bioswale itself that prevents deaths — it’s the curb extension and the related pieces that are part of the whole project. It’s holistic.

    I don’t see where a bioswale fits in the “holistic” design for bicyclist death prevention. Sounds nice though, doesn’t it?

    And a curb extension? It may or may not prevent a death–or, it may force a bicyclist out into a lane where they get hit. Or, it may do nothing at all.

    I like curb extensions, because they do a simple thing–make it easier to cross a street, because pedestrians are easier to spot. Sometimes, as a result, traffic slows down. Sometimes, it doesn’t and the pedestrian gets hit.

    Maybe you should take a break from reading about sewage treatment plants and look at the designs…

    Seen ‘em. Nothing wrong with the design itself, on paper. But I’m not interested in assessing the goodness of the design–I’m interested in the political and fiscal machinations being performed to justify the expenditure.

    Imagine for a moment: you visited a restaurant, and the waiter brought you the check, then charged your card an extra $20. You point out the error, and that you wanted to pay for food and service, nothing else. The waiter refuses to refund the error, but instead says that $20 will be used to build a patio out back so customers can sit outside. Then, the waiter says that while you were talking, the cost of your meal increased by $5–so you owe him an additional $5, and that $20 is no longer yours.

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  • AaronF March 19, 2010 at 10:54 am

    #12 Paul Cone

    “Who is to decide that preventing the flooding basements is more important that preventing more bicyclists from being killed on our roads?”

    Those decisions are made by a whole lot of folks through public input, budgeting and so on. I think some people are unhappy because they feel that this thinly veiled “bike money” was rammed through the process without letting a lot of folks have a chance to weigh in.

    Seems reasonable to me.

    I love me some bike blvds, but I think this was a political blunder for bicycles, and it might cost us more than $20 million in political capital.

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  • Paul Cone March 19, 2010 at 10:59 am

    Ecohuman, you really don’t seem to get what we’re talking about here. It’s a green street, with features to reduce stormwater running into that billion dollar plus piping system, PLUS it’s improved safety for bikes and peds (aka a bike boulevard). It’s all built at once. Did you even watch the video?

    Imagine one restaurant where the prices are really high, and then another where the prices are really low? Which one would you eat at? Oh wait, you have to eat at both, or else your sewers will get backed up. One is paid for by gas taxes, and the other sends you a bill because the feds mandated it. Huh? Yeah, exactly. Keep trying.

    Really what’s needed is a system where people are charged equitably for what they use, for all city services. How come the sewer bureau gets to send me a bill, but the streets bureau does not? What about the fire bureau, or the police bureau? Don’t I use their services, too? How come they don’t get to bill me?

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  • ecohuman March 19, 2010 at 11:08 am

    Did you even watch the video?

    Did you even read the last part of my last comment?

    Imagine one restaurant where the prices are really high, and then another where the prices are really low? Which one would you eat at?

    Nope. There’s only one restaurant. And one sewer system.

    How come the sewer bureau gets to send me a bill, but the streets bureau does not? What about the fire bureau, or the police bureau? Don’t I use their services, too? How come they don’t get to bill me?

    If you’re a property owner, the answer to that one should be painfully clear.

    Really what’s needed is a system where people are charged equitably for what they use, for all city services.

    I disagree–that would be a regressive, harsh system, and poor folks wouldn’t get much of anything.

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  • Paul Cone March 19, 2010 at 11:16 am

    ecohuman, I read the last part of your comment. I don’t care about political blunders. I care about what’s fair.

    This is a city, not a sewer system, and it has multiple services, which are not equitably funded.

    The answer is not painfully clear to me and I have been a property owner.

    When I say equitably, I mean among the various services, not among various classes of people. Again, why do BES and Water get to send me a bill, but Transportation and Fire and Police and Parks do not?

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  • ecohuman March 19, 2010 at 11:46 am

    ecohuman, I read the last part of your comment. I don’t care about political blunders. I care about what’s fair.

    We both care about fair. We disagree about what “fair” means in this case.

    This is a city, not a sewer system, and it has multiple services, which are not equitably funded.

    Seriously, Paul, I’m sure you care about bicycling very much. But if you’re unwilling to even consider that the end just might not justify the means, why pretend to be arguing the point?

    The answer is not painfully clear to me and I have been a property owner.

    Then I’m not sure what to tell you. I’m sure you know what a public good is, how they differ from other things, and how each citizen gets “billed” for them.

    Again, why do BES and Water get to send me a bill, but Transportation and Fire and Police and Parks do not?

    A more pertinent question might be: Why does the Water Bureau continue to raise your bill while any surplus is not being used to adequately fund those services?

    But to specifically answer your question anyway:
    Portland Park & Rec DOES bill you–mainly via a property tax bill.
    The Fire Bureau DOES bill you–mainly via a property tax bill.
    Transportation DOES bill you–partly through a property tax bill.

    When that’s not enough, property tax levies and other measures are taken.

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  • Paul Cone March 19, 2010 at 11:50 am

    Again I think you are missing the point — the green streets still ARE sewer projects. So the means are still fair.

    Those bureaus may be billing me via property taxes, but only as much as the voters allow. How come I don’t get to vote on my water and sewer bill?

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  • Anonymous March 19, 2010 at 12:33 pm

    Ecohuman,

    Really? In a past life (1984-1989) I was a member of the hydrology sciences group at the USDA Redwood Sciences Lab in Arcata, CA. I’ve been out of the hydrology field for a while, but I can still read and understand the big words (provided of course that there are pictures). Your sewage costs will be reduced if we all generate less of it and manage what we do produce in more cost effective ways.

    Whining about your property taxes? Your property taxes are light compared to a number, if not a majority, of other cities, especially on the east coast.

    Personally, I think that your rage is more about the person (and lifestyle?) of Sam Adams and less about anything he’s actually doing. Get over it.

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  • AaronF March 19, 2010 at 12:47 pm

    “Again I think you are missing the point — the green streets still ARE sewer projects. So the means are still fair.”

    But they CUT to the front of the funding line in a streamlined political maneuver which excluded many stakeholders who would usually be consulted.

    That isn’t everyone’s definition of “fair”

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  • Perry March 19, 2010 at 12:50 pm

    Ecohuman,

    Really? In a past life (1984-1989) I was a member of the hydrology sciences group at the USDA Redwood Sciences Lab in Arcata, CA. Granted, I was a piss ant programmer/analyst and not a principal, but I can still read and understand the big words (provided of course that there are pictures). I did read the paper, and I even read a couple of the citations just for kicks. You’ll notice that a lot of these papers date back a couple decades or so – this stuff isn’t new.

    Your sewage costs will be reduced if you generate less of it and manage what you do produce in more cost effective ways. This project is 1/50 that of the big pipe, and we get more than storm water management for the money. It’s not a conspiracy – it’s good governance. It’s unfortunate that it was portrayed as a “bike project”, but I’m sure the Mayor’s office has learned more than they ever wanted to know about PR by now.

    Whining about your property taxes and your water bill? Your property taxes are light compared to a number, if not a majority, of other cities, especially on the east coast. Don’t like the water bill? Buy some barrels and collect rainwater for your yard – I did and I save more than the measly 7% you are whining about. Cost me $100 and a whole Saturday afternoon teaching the kids something useful. Don’t like the sewage charges? Get a low-flow dual-flush toilet and watch the bill go down (I did that too).

    Personally, I think that your rage is more about the person (and lifestyle?) of Sam Adams and less about anything he’s actually doing. Get over it.

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  • AaronF March 19, 2010 at 1:09 pm

    “It’s unfortunate that it was portrayed as a “bike project”, but I’m sure the Mayor’s office has learned more than they ever wanted to know about PR by now.”

    Adams was the one touting it as a bike project. He brought it to the table when the “600 mil” bike plan went through.

    Terrible PR… for bikes… from the guy who is in our corner.

    Isn’t it ironic

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  • ecohuman March 19, 2010 at 1:57 pm

    Oh, what the heck:

    Your property taxes are light compared to a number, if not a majority, of other cities, especially on the east coast.

    Nope. As a percentage of property value, Oregon ranks in the middle of all states at about 27th. As a percentage of *income*, we’re the third highest in the nation.

    http://articles.moneycentral.msn.com/Taxes/Advice/PropertyTaxesWhereDoesYourStateRank.aspx

    Don’t like the water bill? Buy some barrels and collect rainwater for your yard – I did and I save more than the measly 7% you are whining about.

    Did that, actually–I’ve got a 325-gallon container and a solar pump. Saves me about $5/month. But given that the majority of my water bill is *sewer* charges–and that charge is unaffected by rainwater collection–your suggestion of “less water = less sewer charges” doesn’t make much sense to me.

    Your sewage costs will be reduced if you generate less of it

    Really? That’s never happened in Portland. Ever. I’d welcome it. Instead, rates continue to skyrocket, in all usage scenarios, for decades.

    Personally, I think that your rage is more about the person (and lifestyle?) of Sam Adams and less about anything he’s actually doing.

    Yes. That’s it exactly. I’m against budgetary decisions made by gay people. You’ve found me out. If only Sam weren’t gay, I’d be in full support of this decision. And the rest of City Council? Oh, it’s just that their names start with the wrong letter.

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  • Paul Cone March 19, 2010 at 2:01 pm

    Sanitary sewer charges are based on water usage from your meter. If you have rainbarrels, you’re using less metered water on your garden. Hence your sanitary sewer charges go down if you have rainbarrels. Like the green streets, it’s all related.

    You can get a discount on your stormwater sewer charges for disconnecting your downspouts. And planting trees.

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  • ecohuman March 19, 2010 at 2:17 pm

    Sanitary sewer charges are based on water usage from your meter. If you have rainbarrels, you’re using less metered water on your garden.

    Wrong again, Paul. Sewer volume from your property is just one part of the sewer/stormwater charge.

    You can get a discount on your stormwater sewer charges for disconnecting your downspouts. And planting trees.

    Correct–except that’s only for the stormwater generated on site, which in terms of total cost is minimal (a few dollars). Offsite stormwater charges are the larger cost, and unaffected by any activity on your property.

    http://www.portlandonline.com/BES/index.cfm?a=121553&c=47683

    I’ve done it all on my property–disconnected downspouts, harvested rainwater, gotten hyper efficient indoors, and began using graywater. Strangely, my bill continues to rise–and my sewer/stormwater rates aren’t much affected.

    But hey–according to other commenters, when those bioswales go in, my bill will go down, right?

    Right.

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  • ecohuman March 19, 2010 at 2:24 pm

    And I’m still curious why supporters of the plan are carefully avoiding the overarching fiscal issue. I’ve tried to address the issues of stormwater itself–the other side of the argument, if you will–but I’m hearing silence on the real issue. That is, other than to say “hey, it’s innovative and good and wise spending!”

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  • Paul Cone March 19, 2010 at 2:26 pm

    Gah, ecohuman, read your dang bill, eh? The line that says “Sewer Volume” is calculated on your “Water Volume” (the line just above it). That is your sanitary sewer, from your toilet, shower, sinks, etc. The next two lines are Stormwater. If you hook up a rainbarrel, you’re using less metered water from your tap to water your garden, so you’re therefore reducing the Sewer Volume amount calculated.

    And here’s a diagram for you…

    http://www.portlandonline.com/water/index.cfm?c=48893&a=223909
    When those bioswales go in, it will keep your bill from going up more.

    Full disclosure — I used to work for the Water Bureau, and now I work for Transportation. So I think I know my facts about how the bill is calculated, and about curb extensions, and what they’re designed to do.

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  • ecohuman March 19, 2010 at 2:43 pm

    Paul, as the brochure you linked to shows clearly, the majority of water bill charges are not related to activity on the site. Off site charges, superfund charges, a fixed base charge. All of these are unaffected by what you do on site.

    Also, you’re wrong about sewer volume. It’s largely based on cost to build and maintain sewers themselves.

    And working for a public bureau doesn’t make you an expert on that bureau, Paul.

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  • Paul Cone March 19, 2010 at 3:04 pm

    ecohuman, it doesn’t make me an expert but it certainly affords me a good opportunity to learn about these things. I never claimed to be an expert — just in a better position than most to learn about such things.

    Again, you are mixing things up (sort of like a CSO) and not addressing the misleading point you made, which is that rainbarrels don’t affect the sewer bill. Nobody ever denied that the most dollars on the bill go towards offsite activity.

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  • ecohuman March 19, 2010 at 4:11 pm

    the misleading point you made, which is that rainbarrels don’t affect the sewer bill.

    That’s not what I said. I said “I’ve got a 325-gallon container and a solar pump. Saves me about $5/month” and “I’ve done it all on my property–disconnected downspouts, harvested rainwater, gotten hyper efficient indoors, and began using graywater. Strangely, my bill continues to rise–and my sewer/stormwater rates aren’t much affected.”

    Again, you are mixing things up

    Given that we both claim the other’s mixed up, and how the water bill is parsed is beside the larger point, it’s really not worth saying once more “I know you are but what am I?”

    I’m fairly familiar with bioswales and bioremediation. They have value. Again, I’ll say: that’s beside my point. The merits of swales isn’t the problem I have with the whole issue–it’s how it’s being done, and what it’s ignoring to do it. The complexity of the problem and the questionable net “green benefits” is an issue too big to explain in a blog comment. I’ll leave it at that, because this is a blog about *bicycles*, after all.

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  • ecohuman March 19, 2010 at 4:14 pm

    And this statement I made, by the way?:

    But given that the majority of my water bill is *sewer* charges–and that charge is unaffected by rainwater collection–your suggestion of “less water = less sewer charges” doesn’t make much sense to me.”

    Was verified by a water bureau employee after I installed and began using a rainwater harvesting system. I asked them directly, and we discussed it in detail.

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  • Paul Cone March 19, 2010 at 4:23 pm

    ecohuman, I get you now… you changed your statement, and I missed that. First you said your bill “charge is unaffected”, then you said “rates aren’t much affected”. It sounds like you’re accepting my statement that rainbarrels make a difference as true, then. Every little bit helps manage stormwater. Just like every tree that is planted (BES subsidizes neighborhood plantings through Friends of Trees), and every green street treatment, that will manage stormwater… and make things safer for *bicylists*, at the same time.

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  • Paul Cone March 19, 2010 at 4:24 pm

    “And working for a public bureau doesn’t make you an expert on that bureau”

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  • ecohuman March 19, 2010 at 5:06 pm

    It sounds like you’re accepting my statement that rainbarrels make a difference as true, then

    I’m not “accepting” anything, Paul. As Kurt Vonnegut said, I’m not out to win, I’m out to place.

    But when the bioswales go in, and sewer bills continue to rise at a phenomenal rate, I’ll swing back by to see what you think. And when the City of Portland goes officially broke servicing the debt it already has, I’ll check in then, too.

    But being a former water bureau employee, you know about all that existing debt that’s in risk of collapse, don’t you?

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  • Paul Cone March 19, 2010 at 5:10 pm

    Again, just because I worked for that bureau, it doesn’t make me an expert on everything they do. In my case, I worked in Engineering — not in Finance. Last I heard, the City of Portland had an outstanding debt rating. But I’ll bite. Are you saying we should refund that $20 mil to the ratepayers? What about the other BILLION PLUS dollars that BES is already spending? Is this Water Bureau debt anything like that?

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  • el timito March 19, 2010 at 6:21 pm

    Our water/sewer bills are higher than most cities’? Perhaps it’s because we’re doing something about our aging systems. Read this article in the Times:

    http://www.nytimes.com/2010/03/15/us/15water.html

    Lots of cities are dealing with pipes breaking, loss of service, etc. And they can’t get their citizens to pay for it.

    Sure, we’re paying more – and we’re getting our maintenance taken care of. Both with new pipes *and* innovative treatments like bioswales that give us a three-fer: Reduced pollution from stormwater run-off; recharged groundwater aquifers; and traffic calming. Which benefits pedestrians, cyclists, -and- drivers by the way.

    When traffic slows down, who reaps the biggest safety benefit, in terms of injury and death? Drivers and passengers.

    Who else benefits most? Seniors and kids. (Greg R – help me with the citations here.)

    Really – why do all you Green Street haters hate drivers and seniors and kids so much?

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  • adlangx March 20, 2010 at 2:26 am

    Well, instead of asking Portlanders to support the bike plan the council decided to just take the money from sewer bills.

    Fine.

    I have now paid for the bike plan on my sewer bill. The council has decreed it so that is that. I will now be forced to pay more on my sewer bill for 25 years in order to cover the bike plan.

    I’m not happy about it, but what can I do.

    Don’t dare ask me for more bike money. You got your payout.

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  • Dan Kaufman March 21, 2010 at 7:12 pm

    #40 adlanx I’d like to point out that much of our sewer system is designed to handle storm water run-off from the motor roads. You should look at our sewer system fees and taxes as just one more subsidy for cars.

    I’d be a copycat and say “don’t dare ask me for one more payout” for cars but I already know I will be asked and taxed over and over again just to benefit motorists.

    Please don’t bring up gasoline taxes/fees. They don’t even begin to cover the direct costs, let alone the indirect ones like the sewer systems.

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