In the early 2000s, Portland began one of the country’s first green infrastructure programs. For decades, Portland has been working to mitigate its combined sewer overflow events by improving the ecological function and health of its watersheds, conserving natural areas, and making room for flooding. Among these watershed-wide projects is the Tabor to the River program. The project piloted nature-based approaches including green roofs and streets, stormwater facilities, trees, and disconnected downspouts knitting together restored natural areas and public parks. It demonstrated sustainable, low-impact stormwater management solutions while providing facilities for traffic calming, bike parking, placemaking, and community building. A growing tool kit of green infrastructure approaches has been honed by the Portland Bureau of Environmental Services, which has worked to create pilot projects, monitor how they perform, and evaluate their success. The Tabor to the River Program has now been expanded to watersheds across the city and, as green infrastructure is installed, it has not only become a successful way to manage stormwater, but an important tool in creating more livable green neighborhoods, a thriving urban ecology, and a more equitable city. This video animates of Packard Jennings illustration of the Tabor to the River Water Cycle in Alison Sant’s book, From the Ground Up: Local Efforts to Create Resilient Cities (Island Press, 2022). Music: “Wide Roll” by Portland’s Rose City Band on Thrill Jockey Records.
By Packard Jennings