Council News

Stop the Bull Run Takeover

The Bull Run River, before meeting the Sandy River

The Bull Run River, before meeting the Sandy River

The Sandy River Basin Watershed Council is joining a broad coalition of groups interested in the environment, social justice, and sustainable economies to urge Portland residents to vote “no” on the upcoming Portland Water Ballot Measure, 26-156 on the May 20 primary ballot. With no detail on how a water district would support crucial environmental commitments, the initiative risks protection of the Bull Run water supply, threatens key investments toward restoration in the Sandy, and could eliminate effective green infrastructure programs that keep polluted runoff out of the Willamette.

The initiative, supported only by large water users, would strip the Portland Water Bureau and Bureau of Environmental Services from direct management by the city but gives no assurance to continue critical conservation programs in our region’s rivers. While claiming to answer concerns about rising rates, the ballot measure defines no mechanism to lower average customers’ water and sewer rates. The proposal creates inequitable representation on water issues, excluding East Portland residents and prohibiting people with experience in water management from serving on a proposed water district board. By risking the bureaus’ top bond rating, it would result in economic uncertainty for all Portland water consumers.

Bull Run Lake and Mt. Hood

Bull Run Lake and Mt. Hood

The ballot measure seeks to dismantle the current Portland Water Bureau and Bureau of Environmental Services, and transfer $15 billion worth of public infrastructure to a newly formed board whose members the measure would prohibit from having a background in water and sewer management.  A recent Portland City Club report dismissed the notion that this measure would lower rates by stating, “Rates will continue to be subjected to upward pressure regardless of the utilities’ governance structure”, and goes even further to suggest, “The measure is poorly structured and is likely to be subject to legal challenges.”

The Portland Water ballot measure risks the Portland community’s commitments to our exceptional rivers and our environment, including the Sandy Basin’s Bull Run watershed.   Backers of this ballot measure have sued the city of Portland over the use of green infrastructure that reduces storm water runoff, despite the fact that green infrastructure is highly efficient, cost-effective, and enhances community health along with reduction in combined sewer overflows into the Willamette River.

Reservior holding Portland's water

Portland’s water flows from the protected Bull Run basin

This ballot measure would leave 20% of Portland’s population without a vote, since East Portland would be excluded from the election of board members to the new governing body.  Local organizations representing the diverse interests of East Portland have also signed on to urge a “no” vote on this ballot measure.

Learn more about this issue and why it is critically important to our local economy and environmental health:

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Judge: Sandy Hatchery Violates Endangered Species Act

Salmon R weir 9-12

A Federal judge has ruled that the Sandy Hatchery violates the Endangered Species Act because of its impacts on wild salmon.  The ruling comes in a lawsuit filed by Native Fish Society (NFS) and McKenzie Fly Fishers contending that the … Continue reading

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2013 Salmon Olympics


With the end of coho salmon returns and the arrival of winter weather, we’re happy to report the 2013 Fall Salmon Toss was a success.  With funding from the Portland Water Bureau and assistance from Oregon Department of Fish and … Continue reading

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Over 100 volunteers help plant the Sandy Delta

Photo courtesy of Brighton West

Around 130 volunteers planted 800 trees and shrubs at the Sandy Delta in an effort to restore native forest vegetation.  The Sandy River Delta is undergoing multiple methods of restoration, including invasive species removal, native plantings, wetland protection fencing, and the … Continue reading

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Yellow-Billed Cuckoo Potentially Listed


The western populations of yellow-billed cuckoo are proposed to be listed as “threatened” to the federal list under the Endangered Species Act.  The yellow-billed cuckoo primarily resides in riparian forests, which have been threatened by diminishing available habitat. Populations have been declining … Continue reading

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Free Sandy-versary Celebrated with Restoration Events

Mazama planting

On Saturday, October 19th, the Council celebrated the 6-year anniversary of the Sandy River flowing free after the removal of the Marmot Dam in 2007.  Two events celebrated different stages and methods of restoration in the Sandy River Basin, including large-scale in stream … Continue reading

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Sewer pump failure on the Sandy


On October 7th, a sewer pump station operated by Clackamas County Water Environment Services (WES)  failed, releasing approximately 168,000 gallons of sewage into the Sandy River.  This sewage release occurred near the Brightwood neighborhood, and was fixed within the same … Continue reading

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Fall rain brings salmon returning to the Sandy River Basin


A wet late September is bringing fall salmon back to their rearing grounds in the Sandy River and its tributaries.  Reports of wild and hatchery salmon from Oregon Department of Fish & Wildlife and other groups show signs of a … Continue reading

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Delta Dam Removal: Sandy East Channel Flows Free


The Sandy River regained its multi-channel delta with the removal of a small 1930s dam, returning the Sandy’s east channel to free flowing condition for the first time in 80 years. The Corps and Portland Water Bureau collaborated to remove the … Continue reading

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Happy Creek: Reconnected and Content at Last

HC Logjam

We are happy to announce the completion of our Happy Creek Reconnection project in Oxbow Park.  With funding from the Oregon Watershed Enhancement Board, PGE Habitat Fund, East Multnomah Soil and Water Conservation District, and the Oregon Fish and Wildlife … Continue reading

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