April showers bring…floods?
April is bringing more than a few showers this year! Record-setting rains in Eugene are adding to floods along the Willamette River far later in the spring than is typical. We can expect more flooding in the years to come, as climate change delivers sea level rise, more intense storms and higher winter stream flows.
For OEC, this means encouraging communities across the state to invest in ways to manage stormwater. This means keeping toxic stuff off our streets, out of rivers and—ultimately—protecting our the drinking water.
Rain behaves differently when it runs off rooftops and paved surfaces, gathering speed and intensity, instead of soaking directly into wetlands or other green spaces. Communities are challenged to manage both the fast-moving water and the pollutants it can carry. That’s why OEC worked with partners on a “Storm Water Solutions” guide, giving planners some practical design tips. Today, we’re finding ways to encourage investment in these solutions.
Our state’s watershed councils are important partners in restoring river health; check out an example of a watershed council project on Hamilton Creek, near Lebanon, OR.
Watershed councils and city planners do important work; but we all have a role to play in managing stormwater and keeping our rivers healthy, now and in the soggy days to come. Here are ways you can help:
Become a “green street steward”: Portland has a city-wide program for volunteers to “adopt” streets that have been designed to manage stormwater with soil and plants. In other communities, simply keeping the storm drain on your home street clear of debris can prevent street flooding and protect our rivers.
Plan your rain garden: OEC helped put together this guide to planning and planting a “rain garden” —a beautiful way to catch and filter the water that runs off your roof
Landscape for clean water and healthy habitat: Instead of a grass yard, consider a low-maintenance landscape that conserves water, reduces pollution, and attracts beneficial wildlife.
If lawn is your thing, grow without weed n’ feed: See tips from Oregon Metro on how to maintain a pesticide-free lawn.
Be prepared for flooding:
- See the current river forecast
- See a map and models of sea level rise and coastal flooding vulnerability. These maps show not only where floods may happen, but also what kinds of sites—like those that handle hazardous waste—need to prepare for floods.
- See tips from Oregon Health Authority on ways to prepare for a flood, keeping your home and drinking water safe.