We made this video a couple of years back, but it still illustrates very well the problems that face urban creeks and what can be done about them.
Save our Urban Creeks from Tualatin Riverkeepers on Vimeo.

When it rains, water runs off of the urban landscape, down storm drains, through pipes, to the nearest stream. These drains carry all sorts of pollutants. This includes oil, toxic waste, trash, and nutrients that promote harmful algae blooms. But even if the runoff from our streets was perfectly clean, it would still be a problem.

Our urban landscape is covered with buildings, streets, and parking lots. These impervious surfaces make water run off rapidly, causing erosion. Rapid runoff also stirs up legacy pollutants and sediments harmful to fish and other aquatic life.

Over the years we have steadily increased these problems by the way we developed our urban landscape with rooftops, pavement, drains and storm sewers connected directly to streams.  In contrast with an urban landscape, a natural landscape is dominated by trees and plants that intercept rain. Soils rich in organic matter absorb water like a sponge.

It’s time to make our urban landscape handle rainwater more like nature – using green infrastructure like ecoroofs, bioswales and porous pavement – letting rain into the ground, be taken up by plants, evaporate into the air, or be stored for later use. Not only is green infrastructure good for our streams, it can also save energy and money, and it is often beautiful. Innovative cities have been developing and testing green infrastructure for more than 30 years.  Beaverton’s Creekside District plan is incorporating some of these green infrastructure features.  Tigard just broke ground on the Main Street Green Street project which will reduce runoff to Fanno Creek

Now we know how to reduce polluted stormwater runoff. But in order to make this change happen we need grassroots action to stop pollution and save our streams.

Never before have we been so ready to transform the urban landscape to improve the health of our urban streams. Tualatin Riverkeepers is your voice for clean water and is prepared to advance the transformation of our urban landscape and the public policy that supports it.  Policies like Tigard’s award-winning forestry program, which protects significant tree groves from new development while increasing the tree canopy in the city from its current level of 24% to 40% by 2047.