PORTLAND, Ore — Heavy rains in northwest Oregon have caused the first sewer overflow of the year into the Willamette River, Portland Bureau of Environmental Services said. The sewer overflow is about 80 percent stormwater and 20 percent sewage.
Sunday’s overflow began around 11 a.m. and is occurring from eight outfalls between the Ross Island Bridge and Swan Island, officials said.
During an overflow, and 48 hours after, people are advised to avoid contact with the river because of an increase in bacteria in the water. All other times the river’s water quality is safe for recreation, a press release said.
A project done by the city in 2011 has helped make overflows less common in Portland. It is the Environmental Services' goal to eliminate 94 percent of these incidents. Until Sunday, the department was on track to exceed that goal in 2020.
“Overflows will continue to be rare well after 2020 is over,” said Environmental Services engineer Arnel Mandilag. “Portlanders have invested in the health of the Willamette River. That investment is making overflows the exception rather than the rule, creating a healthier river for wildlife and people.”