News Blog: Help prevent street flooding by adopting your neighborhood storm drain

Having trouble viewing this email? View it as a webpage

Portland Bureau of Transportation

News media contact:

Hannah Schafer
(971) 235-8472



News Blog:

Help prevent street flooding by adopting your neighborhood storm drain

platypus storm drain

(Sept. 16, 2019) The leaves have started to turn and the rain is back – it must be fall in Portland! With the return of wet weather, now is a great time to adopt your neighborhood storm drain to help clear water quickly and efficiently and keep our streets safe.

When drains get clogged with fallen leaves and other debris, it can lead to ponding water in our streets and at our intersections. That makes it harder to drive, walk, bike and roll around town.

Portland Bureau of Transportation (PBOT) crews work hard to keep the drains clear. But with over 58,000 drains in the city, they can’t get to all of them. That’s why we're asking Portlanders to adopt storm drains in their neighborhoods to keep them free and clear of leaves.

storm drain - before, during, after

Before, during, and after: Clearing storm drains helps water flow freely into Portland's stormwater system instead of ponding on city streets. Photos by PBOT.

When clearing a storm drain, please keep these tips in mind:

  • If possible, clear the drain before it starts raining.
  • Clear about 10 feet on both sides of the drain.
  • When working, clear from the sidewalk side, not the street. Wear reflective clothing so people driving or biking can see you.
  • Always wear gloves and be careful of sharp objects!
  • Use a rake, shovel, or broom - not your hands.
  • Watch out for traffic. Only clear drains that are along the curb. Don't clear drains in the middle of a street - leave that to us.
  • Be careful of standing water to avoid slipping or stepping on sharp objects.
  • If children are helping, make sure adults are supervising.
  • Don’t lift storm drain grates. They are very heavy.
  • Clear surface debris only. Let our crews handle garbage or any hazards in the catch basin. 
  • Don’t put leaves in the street! Place leaves in your yard debris roll cart for curbside pickup. If you have too many for the cart, simply bag them and place them next to the roll cart for pickup.
  • Snow or ice blocking the drain? Clear a 10-12 inch path along the curb, for melting snow and ice to reach the drain.
dog leaf raking

If the drain is still clogged after you’ve removed the surface debris, please report it online at, call our 24/7 maintenance dispatch at 503-823-1700, or email to report it.

Thank you for helping keep Portland’s streets clear and safe!

Who manages Portland's stormwater system?

The federal Clean Water Act, Safe Drinking Water Act, and Endangered Species Act direct the City of Portland to improve stormwater quality and protect watersheds, rivers, streams, and drinking water resources. With the exception of storm drain maintenance, the overall management of Portland's stormwater system is the responsibility of the Bureau of Environmental Services (BES). BES coordinates the citywide response to the federal stormwater permit that requires the City to reduce stormwater pollution, and oversees programs that respond to water quality requirements and promote private stormwater management efforts.

PBOT is responsible for maintaining catch basins and responding to street flooding and other safety concerns. The infrastructure includes 456 miles of stormwater sewer pipe, 878 miles of combined sewer pipe (carries both stormwater and sewage), 58,000 catch basins, and 4,700 miles of streets. PBOT also maintains approximately 351 trash racks, 141 miles of ditches, and 23 miles of culverts.

get home safe

The Portland Bureau of Transportation (PBOT) is the steward of the City’s transportation system, and a community partner in shaping a livable city. We plan, build, manage and maintain an effective and safe transportation system that provides access and mobility.