Otak Designs Stormwater Improvements for Mount Hood Community College
The first phase of construction is wrapping up this month on the salmon-safe clean water retrofit that Otak designed at Mt. Hood Community College. This project, led by the Sandy River Watershed Council, will improve water quality and salmon habitat in Gresham’s Beaver Creek by treating 1.9 million gallons of polluted runoff per year. Older parking lots like this college campus were built without the stormwater treatment that is typically required in new development today.
Otak’s water and natural resources engineers designed the retrofit project to treat as much runoff as possible while keeping costs down, minimizing loss of parking spaces, and protecting the mature trees that shade the parking lots. Stormwater swales and planters fit into slivers of available space, with drywells added to increase infiltration. A large raingarden creates the focal point of the retrofit, providing a visible opportunity to educate campus visitors about stormwater and watershed health. New signs designed by students will help spread the word about the project’s environmental benefits, and the City of Gresham installed devices to monitor water quality and flow rates before and after construction.
The project is funded by East Multnomah Soil and Water Conservation District, Metro regional government, the City of Gresham, Spirit Mountain Community Fund, and the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality. In 2016 the partners came together to identify retrofit projects on the college campus that would maximize environmental benefits and public education opportunities. These parking lots got top priority and are expected to be the first of many future improvements. Mt. Hood Community College is the first Salmon Safe certified community college in the country, and the stormwater retrofits will help the college maintain its certification.
On October 27, volunteers will plant the portions of the project that were built by the nonprofit group Depave. Contractors for the project are Britton Excavating and Grow Construction. The second phase of the project is expected to be built next summer, pending funding.
*Photo credits: Mt. Hood Community College