Here in the Tualatin Valley, everything that falls on the ground can be washed into our neighborhood streams. There is a direct connection between our streets and our streams through the storm sewer system.
When it rains, everything that falls in streets or parking lots is washed into the nearest stream through the storm drain. For most of the Tualatin Valley, stormwater runoff from streets gets no treatment or filtering at all. All sorts of harmful things end up in our streams:
Even if urban stormwater runoff contained no pollution it would still cause problems for streams. Hard, impervious surfaces, like rooftops, concrete and asphalt don't allow rainwater to soak into the ground as it would naturally. Instead, rain runs off of these hard surfaces to the nearest storm drain and is piped directly to the nearest stream. With each rain storm, our streams experience a flash flood that causes erosion, stirs up polluted sediments, and blows out the structure that fish and other aquatic life use as habitat.
Our streams depend on springs and seeps, fed by groundwater to keep the water cool and flowing in the summer dry season. In urban areas that are covered with rooftops and pavement, water can no longer soak into the ground. With no water in the ground, streams dry up and heat up in the summer.
HOW CAN WE PROTECT OUR STREAMS?
Individual actions can help protect our streams. Some examples of these are:
While these individual actions can help, to really fix the problems of urban runoff, we must collectively break the street-to-stream connection.
Our communities need to change the way we develop. To reduce impervious surfaces that cause runoff and street-to-stream pollution we must adopt practices called Low Impact Development. Some examples of Low Impact Development are:
You can learn more about urban runoff and low impact development from the following web sites:
Tualatin Riverkeepers is the leading independent voice standing up for clean water, the river, streams, and wetlands in our community.
Grand Prize Winner
Matthew Dan, Capital Center High School
Second Prize Winner
Cascade Education Corps, Tigard High School
Third Prize Winner
Andrew Mesa, Westview High School
Fourth Prize Winner
Morgan Carver, Merlo Station High School
Send questions to firstname.lastname@example.org
These videos are also available on our Street2Stream YouTube channel.
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