Editor’s note: Want to check out Portland’s stormwater solutions for yourself? Sign up for our weekly blog emails and you could win a trip for two to Portland.

Portland has a tour to please everyone—cycling enthusiasts, Japanese garden aficionados, beer lovers, vintage trolley buffs, and even stormwater groupies.

Portland bioswale small_Flickr_Steven VanceYup, you read that right. The city of Portland has become such a trailblazer in the construction of cool ways of handling its rainy-day runoff that it offers maps for visiting its stormwater solutions. There are maps targeting various neighborhoods, focused on green roofs, and a stormwater tour by bike. And if you’re feeling a touch lazy, there are even virtual tours.

The tours focus on what’s called low-impact development (or LID), which includes a variety of conservation and engineering tricks that take the rain out of stormwater sewer systems and help it soak into the ground or evaporate. The strategy is cheaper in most cases than building the drains and gutters that comprise traditional stormwater systems, and LID helps the environment by removing pollutants before they get into waterways and by reducing erosion to streams.

And if the online self-guided stormwater tours aren’t enough, this month is Portland’s ninth annual “Build It Green Home Tour.” The event promises to showcase “affordable housing, Passive House Standard and small footprint dwellings. And many of the homes include ecoroofs!”

Not to be outdone entirely, Seattle this month is also playing host to some stormwater tours. On Sept. 18, there will be a tour of LID projects in West Seattle’s High Point neighborhood, followed by a Sept. 26 tour in the Broadview neighborhood in northwest Seattle. For more information and to RSVP for the free tours, contact People for Puget Sound at events@pugetsound.org or call 206-382-7007.

  • Our work is made possible by the generosity of people like you!

    Thanks to Andrew Dannenberg for supporting a sustainable Cascadia.

  • Here are the details on Portland’s Build It Green Home Tour, which is followed by a free info fair.


    • When: Saturday, Sept. 25 from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.
    • Where: Pick a spot on the tour map and go
    • How much: $15 adults; $10 car-free/students/honored citizens;free for children younger than 14


    • When: Saturday Sept. 25 from 3 to 7 p.m.
    • Where: Ecohaus, 819 S.E. Taylor
    • How much: Free


    Portland bioswale photo used under the Creative Commons license from Flickr user Steven Vance.