Sept 20 Discussion

September 25, 2007 at 7:02 pm Leave a comment

Present: Cameron Kellett, Look Tobin, Jordan Kohn, Laura Bradley, Alan Shusterman

Our discussion turned on recent experiences we had had around Portland.

Laura had planned to attend a Green Home tour the previous weekend, but it didn’t work out. She did have an opportunity to talk with people who went on the tour and gave us a second-hand report.

Green Homes reminded me of a home I had passed that morning that had built its own bioswale at the curb line. For those who are unacquainted with local water pollution issues, here is some information:

  • The Portland Harbor (a 5-6 mile stretch of the Willamette River just north of downtown Portland) was listed by the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) as a Superfund site in 2000 and is currently undergoing “clean up”. The reason for the listing was that various industries located on or near the river had, over many decades, released high levels of hazardous waste into the river sediment, including metals, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH), polychlorinated biphenyls (PCB), chlorinated pesticides, and dioxin. Any waste site that is “uncontrolled” falls under the protection of the EPA’s Superfund program. The Superfund label referred to the fact that Superfund expenses were originally paid by a special tax on the oil and chemical industries. Congress allowed this tax to lapse, so Superfund expenses are currently paid you and me. For more information:
  • “Combined sewage overflows” (CSO) are another source of Willamette river pollution. Portland combines sewage and stormwater runoff in the same pipes, and this means that sewage gets discharged into the Willamette every time it rains. The EPA, which oversees the Clean Water Act, directed Portland to stop discharging sewage into the river and the City began work in 1991 on a new sewer system. The City has put several programs in place in order to comply with the EPA order, including:
    • Downspout disconnection program – homeowners reduce rain water discharges to storm drain
    • Ecoroof projects – homeowners and businesses cover roof with growing plants to control stormwater runoff and building temperatures
    • Big Pipe project – City reduces sewage flowing to river by sending it through an enormous tunnel under the Willamette to a sewage treatment facility in North Portland

We agreed that it might be interesting to tour some of the ecoroof and rain garden (aka bioswale) projects for handling stormwater, but we should wait until it rains so that we can see them in action. Watch for a surprise email!

The rest of the meeting was devoted to the Biofuels conference that Jordan and Laura Mulshine had attended the previous Friday at Mt. Hood Community College. As students, Jordan and Laura were able to attend the conference for free. Several (all?) of the Friday speakers have posted their slides on-line. Speakers came from the following organizations:

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Entry filed under: Meeting notes.

Next meeting Sept 27, Th, noon Sept 27 discussion

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