September 17, 2018
Environmental Services’ longstanding partnership with local nonprofit Depave not only transforms asphalt patches, but also empowers Portlanders to take part in the city’s efforts to manage stormwater runoff and keep our rivers clean.
What’s Stormwater Runoff?
In a natural environment, soil and plants would absorb rainfall; but in the city, streets, buildings, and parking lots cover the ground. Rain washes over these surfaces and becomes stormwater runoff, which carries oil and other pollutants to rivers and streams.
Improving Neighborhoods Together
Environmental Services is working on an upcoming project supporting Depave and the Lower Columbia Estuary Partnership to improve North Portland’s Boise-Eliot/Humboldt Elementary schoolyard. Starting at 10 a.m. on September 22, volunteers will transform this schoolyard’s asphalt expanse into a stormwater-savvy soft play area. Volunteers will help remove more than 6,000 square feet of pavement, and the project will include a vegetated planting area, six new trees, creation of a wallball court with a mural showcasing watershed health, and stormwater-focused education for the school’s K-5 students.
This work will help reduce pollution to the Willamette River, and provide shade trees, a new soft play area, and habitat for native birds and pollinators. It’s also a chance for the students to learn about watershed health and urban habitat.
To participate in the Boise-Eliot/Humboldt Elementary School depaving work party, register at: https://depave.org/work/greenspaces. Volunteers must wear long pants and closed-toed shoes. All tools, safety gear, snacks, and lunch are provided. Music will be provided courtesy of DJ Depave.
A History of Partnership
Environmental Services and Depave have maintained a strong partnership since the nonprofit’s founding 10 years ago. In 2008, Depave earned a $10,000 Community Watershed Stewardship Program (CWSP) grant through Environmental Services to remove 3,000 square feet of parking lot and establish the grounds of Fargo Forest Garden, located in Portland’s Eliot neighborhood at the corner of NE Fargo Street and N Williams Avenue.
Greening Our City
A larger-scale depaving project took place starting in 2010 at Ascension Catholic Church at 743 SE 76th Avenue. The church lot was a sea of asphalt, with oversized parking stalls and drive aisles lacking interior landscaping.
As of fall 2017, Depave has removed 3,200 square feet of asphalt. A CWSP grant helped to gather over 150 volunteers from the church, Depave, and the community who installed over 800 native plants and completed two new rain gardens. Environmental Services installed 10 large diameter trees, helping to shade the parking lot, intercept stormwater during the winter months, and reduce the urban heat island effect. The Mount Tabor neighborhood church now manages around 500,000 gallons of stormwater runoff onsite annually.
Environmental Services is proud to have sponsored these kick-asphalt projects over the years alongside Depave. If you have an idea for a depave project of your own, apply for a CWSP grant or connect with Depave.