Portland Harbor Community Advisory Group

October 11, 2023 Meeting Minutes


CAG Board Members

Michael Pouncil, Chair

Doug Larson

Sarah Taylor

Casimera Tadewaldt

Melissa Berry


In Attendance

Caleb Shaffer, EPA

Laura Knudsen, EPA

Sarah Greenfield, ODEQ

Aaron Abrams, BES Community

Engagement Program Manager Phone: 503-823-2827 | Cell: 503-823-1138

Kristen Kibbler, JLA Public Involvement (facilitator)

Participants: 17


Anthony Martin, BES Financial Planning Manager anthony.martin@portlandoregon.gov

Dawn Sanders, City of Portland


PHCAG hosted a presentation from BES that focused on developing recommendations for updating how we charge ratepayers to ensure billing is more consistent with service costs.


Since 2019, Environmental Services has been conducting a rate study or cost-of-service analysis, which is a technical analysis comparing our rates and charges with peer agencies. The analysis focuses on developing recommendations for updating how we charge our ratepayers to ensure billing is more consistent with service costs. As part of this effort, we are conducting an outreach and engagement effort to gather community feedback and input on various aspects of the rate study. The feedback and input gathered during this effort will inform the current analysis and future bureau priorities, strategic direction, and decision-making. BES staff are planning to bring the proposed changes to Council on October 18. 







Anthony Martin Clean Rivers Rate Study


Mission: Manage Portland’s wastewater and stormwater infrastructure to protect public health and the environment. Stormwater = Rain. This work is supported by our ratepayers.


Rate Study: Reviews rate structure to ensure that rates match the cost of providing services and are proportional to impacts on the system.


Desired Outcomes:

Cost of service principles

Equity BES and city values

Consider affordability concerns

Remove barriers to accessing services and incentive programs

Updated rate structure should lower rates for most homes and many small businesses

Updated charges to connect to sewer/stormwater systems, more user-friendly

Revenue Neutral



Rates are among the highest surveyed, but rate increases of others surveyed are increasing faster.

Processes for collecting revenue meet or exceed industry standards.



Bill customers based on their demands on the system

Simplify and expand eligibility for Clean River Rewards program

Simplify System Development Charges and reduce burden on smaller homes

Phase these changes in over 3 years


Technical Methodology Changes:

Change the basis of stormwater bills from impervious area to stormwater billable area

Additional minor cost allocation adjustments


Portland Harbor Rates:

We only carve out costs that are directly related to Portland Harbor, about 1/6% of your total bill

Single Family Customers:

Tier 1, Single Family might pay 18% (about $15) less today

Tier 2, Single Family might pay 1% (about $1) less than today

Tier 3, Single Family might pay 16% (about $13 less than today


Special Customer Class Rates

Extra strength and special meters – reduced to match cost of service, small portion (3%) of customer base

Drainage District – current rate is 65% of non-drainage district recommendation for rate based on COS; 96% of non-drainage district rates, moderate portion (14%) of customer base

Overwater structures, docks, floating homes – charges were paused, will resume based on providing service, will pay about 88% of what over-land customers will pay


Expand Clean River Rewards:

Expand eligibility, simplify application process, align discount with development requirements



Shifts cost recovery from wastewater to stormwater

Shifts costs from residential to commercial (commercial will pay more, residential will pay less)

Customers who have high extra strength usage, Tier 1, will see lower bills.

Customers who have higher impervious area, commercial customers, dense multi-family, Tier 3, overwater structures and drainage district customers will see higher bills.



Rebalancing revenues to align with costs of the system

Phase-in over a three-year period to mitigate rate shocks


Dawn Sanders, City of Portland

Map showing Portland Harbor stormwater outfalls. 400 non-city and 38 city outfalls.

In Cathedral Park and St Johns, most of the harbor is not served by the Big Pipe. Now all goes to a treatment plant.

Cathedral Park outfall could still overflow.

Municipal Stormwater Source Control Report for Portland Harbor: https://www.portlandoregon.gov/bes/article/500612





Q: ­­You said that one of the things you do with rate change is fund future obligations – is interest from that money used for other things?

A: Any interest gained stays in that fund.


Q: Rate study, how does it relate to water meter readings? Residential property, single family –how does Tier 1 differ from Tier 2? How is stormwater measured for a single-family plot?

A: Tier 1 relates to stormwater. Most will see a decrease. We look at rooftop areas, impervious area. Less than 3200 sq feet of impervious area puts you in Tier 1.


Q: Can you elaborate a little more on the Portland Harbor annual $9M budget? How does this amount compare to the annual revenue brought in via monthly ratepayer charges? What is the current balance of funds existing in the Portland Harbor account?

A: We spend money on legal support, program management, remedy design, public grants, savings for future obligations. The money we have is directly related to services. I don’t have the exact fund amount. I think it’s about $2 million.


Q: Do ADU’s combine their sewer lines with property outlet connection?

A: Depends, sometimes they are separately billed. When we see a duplex, we charge the same as a customer in Tier 2.


Q: How can someone calculate their Tier?

A: We’re still working on finalizing this and on building a process for folks to look this up. Future.


Q: Can you give a more specific breakdown of percentages of superfund revenue that goes into this allocation? Once a year, when you close out the books you could include a paragraph on what percent of funding went where?

A: I’ll bring this back to folks. I’m not equipped to talk about that but I’ll get back to you on that.


Q: Looking at the whole amount collected, how much has been collected over time?

A: I’ll find out and get this to PHCAG.


Q: Solutions that stop sewer overflow, was that for sewer or stormwater? Does this affect billing?

A: How to get stormwater out of the system so overflows didn’t occur. St Johns area, tried to get as much stormwater out of the system. Clean Rivers Reward is for homes that help to mitigate stormwater runoff.


Q: Stormwater charge isn’t just about stormwater? Also pays for other things?

A: No, everything relates to movement of water, quality and quantity. We do pay a city utility fee.


Q: Algae bloom. Can you talk about how this can relate to stormwater runoff. Is this evaluated? Superfund money?

A: Harbor funds are not used to look at this, the State studies this. Blooms typically occur when it’s not raining.


Q: Sewer line in St Johns and Cathedral Park doesn’t connect to the Big Pipe. Density is increasing here. What are capacity limits? How full are we here?

A: We ask that people look at the stormwater manual. We look at capacity when we allow new connections. We do periodic facility planning. Don’t know how full this area is now. We plan for the next 20 years.


Q: The drainage district that starts north of Columbia Blvd. There’s a small residential neighborhood there, next to Rivergate industrial district. Is Columbia Blvd the border?

A: I don’t think St Johns is in that drainage district. This is a levee system. Portland Road is the divider for that drainage district. Predominantly commercial/institutional uses.




Michael: Disconnect your downspouts.


Michael showed a short film on Portland’s CSO (Combined Sewer Overflow) Program. The program removes stormwater from the sewage system so that sewage will not divert into the stormwater system and will not spill into the river during heavy rains. It’s a cost-effective, green solution. The Columbia Slough Big Pipe reduced spillage 99%. Westside Big Pipe project, 3/5-mile-long tunnel under the river to Swan Island, where a pump station pumps 100,000,000 gallons of sewage a day. East Side Big Pipe and several smaller CSO projects. We now have no combined overflows. Stormwater is sent to rain gardens/swales and replenishes groundwater supplies.



Upcoming Events:

  • October 12 – “Too Hot to Handle” An in-person event at the Patagonia Store in Portlandwith our very own Simone Anter and Dan Serres! Join Columbia Riverkeeper and Yakama Nation’s Environmental Restoration Waste Management Program (ERWM) for “Too Hot to Handle,” an in-person event breaking down the Department of Energy’s (Energy) radical change in cleanup at Hanford’s 324 Building, leaving deadly radioactive waste 1000 feet from the Columbia River
  • October 13 – “Spooky Stories from the Hanford Nuclear Site” An online webinar covering the scary, creepy, and downright strange happenings at the nuclear site as told through the stories of those who have experienced them.
  • October 25 – Hood River screening of “Covenant of the Salmon People”.This beautifully shot film documents the work of the Nez Perce Tribe to restore habitat and recover wild salmon in the Snake River basin. It shows how, despite these efforts, salmon are still threatened with extinction, largely due to four dams on the Lower Snake River. If you haven’t seen this special film already, here is your opportunity to see “Covenant of the Salmon People” and hear from the film’s Executive Producer and Nez Perce Chairman Shannon Wheeler.
  • Saturday, October 21st 1-4 pm – City Hall Candidate Platform Building Exercise- Lloyd Center Gallery.   
  • October 27, Climate Horrors Party, Green Anchors 8940 N Brandford St, Portland

3-6 Family & Kids, 6-11PM Glitterfest Party





Contact: Michael Pouncil at 503.705.7224, mpouncil@comcast.net

Portland Harbor CAG
Portland Harbor CAG YouTube 

Our mailing address is: 

Portland Harbor Community Advisory Group

8316 N. Lombard St., PMB #344

Portland, OR  97203



Notes taken by Jane Terzis