Tanner Springs Park, Portland Oregon courtesy Pendrake

Tanner Springs Park, Portland Oregon courtesy Pendrake

taken from

Historical Information
What is now known as the Pearl District was once a wetland and lake fed by streams that flowed down from the nearby hills in southwest Portland. These wooded hillsides provided a natural filter for the streams, cleansing the water as it made its way to the Willamette River. The springs from Tanner Creek, named for the tannery built by pioneer Daniel Lownsdale in the 1860s, flowed into the shallow basin of Couch Lake, now the area surrounding Tanner Springs Park. As the population of Portland grew in the late 19th century, Tanner Creek was rerouted through an underground system of pipes to the Willamette River. The lake and the surrounding wetland were eventually filled to make way for warehouses and rail yards which in turn were replaced by residences, shops, and public spaces. Today, the park sits about 20 feet above the former lake surface.

From the beginning of the planning efforts for the Pearl District in the early 1990s, the creation of a network of open spaces was an important goal of both the neighborhood and the City. In 1998, a conceptual plan for the new parks and open spaces was proposed by the Tanner Creek and Water Feature Steering Committee and approved by City Council. Those recommendations served as a point of departure for planning the district’s parks.

In June 1999, Peter Walker & Partners, a landscape architecture firm, was retained to provide concepts for three new parks between Tenth and Eleventh Avenues in the River District. They developed and refined plans for the parks with input from a Project Steering Committee and two public workshops. The final plan is characterized by a series of recurring elements which strengthen the connection between each of the three parks. Jamison Square was the first to be developed.

North Park Square was the working name given the second block to be developed. Planning for this park began in early 2003. Atelier Dreiseitl, a renowned German design firm, and GreenWorks, P.C., an award-winning, local landscape architecture firm, were selected to design the park. A series of community workshops were held between January and June 2003, allowing citizens to participate in the design process. Construction began in June 2004. At the community meetings, the public was asked to submit suggestions for a permanent name for the park. After committee review, the name Tanner Springs was adopted in April 2005. The springs connect the park to Tanner Creek that at one time flowed openly through this area; today it flows through large pipes beneath the city streets. Since the design of the park attempts to recapture the area’s past with its native wetlands and flowing runnels, the name is fitting.


Mount Tabor Middle School Bioretention Area

Mount Tabor Middle School Bioretention Area


In 2007, the City of Portland Bureau of Environmental Services worked with Portland Public Schools to complete a stormwater retrofit project at Mt. Tabor Middle School, 5800 SE Ash Street in Portland. The project is designed to protect nearby residents from sewer backups into basements when combined sewer pipes fill to capacity during heavy rains. The project includes a rain garden, a swale, six planters, and three drywells. Environmental Services also constructed a stormwater curb extension adjacent to the school on SE 57th at Pine Street. The facilities manage runoff from about two acres of roof, playground, parking lot, and street surfaces.

The Tabor Rain Garden, on the south edge of the school, is technically an infiltration planter, built in summer 2006. It has a footprint of 1,900 square feet and a maximum ponding depth of six to eight inches. The flat-bottomed facility collects runoff from about 30,000 square feet of roof and asphalt play area. Runoff from the roof enters through concrete runnels and through a large trench drain from the asphalt area. When the system reaches capacity, it sends overflow back to the storm collection system through a standpipe in the northwest corner. The bottom of the facility is planted with a mixture of sedges and rushes. The trees are Tupelo and Aspen.

Parking Lot Landscape Systems

In 2007, Environmental Services finished the project with the retrofit of the parking lot with two landscaped facilities; a 1,400 square foot swale that runs east-west down the center of the parking lot, and a 200 square foot planter in the northwest corner. The systems together manage runoff from 15,000 square feet of asphalt.

The swale has multiple check dams to retain runoff and promote infiltration. Runoff enters along the north side of the swale through curb cuts. The south edge has a flush curb that allows runoff to enter along the entire length of the facility. Runoff enters the planter through a single curb cut on the north end of the unit.

Both the swale and planter are designed to safely overflow – in very large storm events – to the entrance of the parking lot, and into the street.

The bottom of the parking lot swale is planted with rushes and sedges; the drier upslope areas are planted with compact Oregon Grape, Dwarf Heavenly Bamboo, Hebe, and Euonymus. The trees are Tupelo and Aspen. The flat-bottomed planter in the northwest corner of the parking lot has plants similar to those in the bottom of the rain garden and the parking lot swale.

Planters Along the Building Edge

In August 2007, Environmental Services built five infiltration planters along the north and west edges of the building. The four planters on the north side of the building are identical; each has a footprint of about 150 square feet. There is a single planter along the southwest edge of the building. It has a footprint of about 250 square feet. The planters together manage runoff from about 15,000 square feet of roof. All of the planters are roughly seven feet from the building, adjacent to downspouts. Splash pads, or concrete runnels, carry runoff from the disconnected downspouts into the planters. The outside edges of the planters are flush with the adjacent grass for easy mowing. The units are designed to overflow onto the grass when they reach a ponding depth of about six inches. There are two plant types in the facilities: sedges and rushes.


Environmental Services installed three drywells under the playground on the east side of the school. They manage runoff from about 25,000 square feet of roof and asphalt.

Street Curb Extension

In January 2007, Environmental Services built a single curb extension on SE 57th, down-slope from the entrance to the school parking lot. It manages runoff from the street and the parking lot entrance, a total of about 6,000 square feet of asphalt. The facility is 64 feet long, has an overall slope of 4.2%, and has eight compartments separated by check dams. The curb extension is 3.5 feet across, from curb to curb, and is planted with rushes.

Relationship to other water programs from the US EPA

Relationship to other water programs from the US EPA

taken from the US EPA

The US EPA Office of Wastewater Management has developed Voluntary National Guidelines for Management of Onsite and Clustered (Decentralized) Wastewater Treatment Systems.  These Guidelines describe five management models offering progressively increasing controls communities can adopt to achieve public health and water quality objectives:

Management Model #1 – Homeowner Awareness

Appropriate for areas of low environmental sensitivity where conventional on-site treatment systems can operate effectively with little homeowner attention.  The community or management entity may periodically conduct educational activities to inform residents about proper septic system care and maintenance, and send out reminders to homeowners to ensure timely maintenance is performed.  No follow-up activities are conducted, though, to ensure residents are maintaining their systems properly.

Management Model #2 – Maintenance Contracts

In addition to conducting some public education about proper care and maintenance of septic systems, the community or management entity requires proof from homeowners that they either have a maintenance contract in place with a professional service, or have had maintenance performed as required for their onsite system.  For example, a small Village might require all residents with aerobic treatment units (ATU) to have a maintenance contract with a professional service provider, and those with conventional septic systems and leach fields would be required to submit a receipt from a septic tank pumping company at least every 3-4 years to prove their septic tanks were cleaned out.

Management Model #3 – Operating Permits

Limited-term permits are issued to homeowners from the community or management entity.  These are renewed if the owner shows proof that their system is in compliance with the terms of the permit.  Permit can include performance-based requirements and/or required inspection and maintenance schedules.

Management Model #4 – Responsible Management Entity (RME) Operation and Maintenance

Operating permits are actually issued to a RME, rather than individual homeowners, to ensure appropriate maintenance is performed.  Homeowners generally pay a monthly, quarterly or annual fee, much like a traditional water or sewer bill, to pay for inspection and maintenance services.  However, they will continue to own their onsite systems.

Management Model #5 – Responsible Management Entity (RME) Ownership

The RME actually owns as well as maintains onsite systems.  The RME obtains easements from property owners to be able to access and service equipment at all times.  Residents pay sewer bills just as they would on a centralized system.  Homeowners are not responsible for eventual replacement of system components from normal use, though they may be held accountable for wreckless misuse.  Villages, Counties and Sewer Districts that wish to adopt this management model can apply for federal funding, including USDA Rural Development and the Ohio Water Pollution Control Loan Fund (WPCLF).

Santa Fe Watershed Association

Information taken from

The Santa Fe Watershed Association is working to restore the Santa Fe River and its watershed through advocacy, education, hands-on restoration work, and a growing network of partners. We advocate for policies that will restore the Santa Fe River to a level of ecological health that sustains aquatic life, wildlife, trees and plants, and our ground water. Our programs both restore and build support for a living river through education and activities that connect people to the river.


The Santa Fe Watershed Association works to return the Santa Fe River to a living river, from the headwaters in the Sangre de Cristo Mountains to the Rio Grande, balancing human uses with natural resource protection and restoring the heart to our community.

  • Our goal is to protect the long-term integrity of the Santa Fe River’s watershed.
  • We engage in education, research, and on-the-ground projects of riparian and watershed restoration, as well as provide input into governmental planning, permits and projects.
  • We strive to find common ground among different points of view regarding uses of the river and its watershed.
  • We advocate surface and groundwater resource management that balances human use with natural resource protection.
  • We encourage government and community leaders to place high priority on sustaining seasonal stream flow in the Santa Fe River, yielding hydrologic, recreational, aesthetic and environmental value to the community. We believe that this goal can coexist with providing a reasonable supply for human use.

Sidwell Friends Constructed Wetland

Sidwell Friends Constructed Wetland courtesy of Andropogon Assc.

Article is taken directly from the GREEN SOURCE MAGAZINE ONLINE:

By Nadav Malin

Sidwell Friends Middle School
Washington, D.C.

While studying aerial photographs of the hilltop campus of Sidwell Friends Middle School, the project team recognized the campus also sits atop two watersheds, both of significant ecological value. That insight led to an integrated approach to water management as the centerpiece of a comprehensive appeal to environmental stewardship that emerged through encounters with architect William McDonough, FAIA, and educator David Orr. “We started out designing a building, which turned into a green building, and that green building ended up transforming the whole school, culturally and operationally,” says Mike Saxenian, assistant head of the school and its chief financial officer.

Sidwell Friends School is split between two campuses. Children in pre-kindergarten through fourth grade attend the lower school on the Bethesda, Maryland, campus. Older students go to the Washington, D.C., campus four miles to the south, which houses the middle and upper schools. A comprehensive master-planning process for both campuses, led by Philadelphia-based KieranTimberlake Associates (KTA), determined that updating and expanding the 55-year-old middle school was the first priority. Following presentations from several short-listed firms, the school hired KTA to design the project.

To create the new middle school, the design team renovated the existing 33,000 square-foot building and expanded it with a 39,000-square-foot addition. The old and new wings meet to form a U-shaped courtyard. The primary entrance leads through the courtyard into a spacious lobby, which, together with administrative offices, connects the old and new parts of the building. Most of the facility’s conventional classrooms are retained within the original building, while the new wing offers science labs, art studios, and other special-purpose rooms.

Stephen Kieran, FAIA, notes that one of the biggest challenges his team faced was the aesthetic expectations that both the designers and the client brought to the project. “Some of the trustees had it in their heads that they could have a conventional brick Washington Georgian building and add features to achieve this level of performance,” says Kieran. Instead, the project’s green agenda led them to design fenestrations based on performance rather than a traditional aesthetic, to use wood from old wine vats as siding, and to devote the building’s central courtyard to a constructed wetland rather than a lawn. Nonetheless, says Kieran, “With everybody working together, we reached agreement in the end.”

The goal of managing wastewater on-site was accepted early, but the team’s vision of how to do that evolved. “All through preliminary design, we were anticipating putting in a Living Machine,” says Kieran, referring to a proprietary system in which wastewater is treated in a series of tanks, typically housed in a greenhouse. But regenerative-design consultant Bill Reed, AIA, argued that “a Living Machine is just another piece of equipment to fix a problem that we created.” Reed suggested the constructed wetland that became the centerpiece of the courtyard.

Wastewater from the kitchen and bathrooms flows into settling tanks, where solids are collected before the water is released below the surface of the constructed wetland. After about 10 years, the solids will have to be removed to a landfill or composted, according to Reed. Surprisingly, city officials approved this alternative wastewater treatment system quickly. The city’s health department had second thoughts at the last minute but ultimately agreed to let the project go ahead on a pilot basis. “We have a monitoring protocol that we have to follow,” reports Saxenian. At press time, the wetland hadn’t yet become fully operational.

The central wetland became the most prominent element in an integrated water-management system that begins with green roof areas that retain rainwater and also serve as garden space in which students grow vegetables for the cafeteria. With this approach, “the place is the process,” notes landscape architect José Alminana of Andropogon of Philadelphia, and the enormous pedagogical value of the sustainability agenda became a driving force in the design process. In addition to the wetland, the designers introduced more than 80 plant species, all native to the Chesapeake Bay region. The biodiversity suggests that “the landscape becomes a new faculty member,” says Alminana.

The control of water guided other design decisions. For example, the exterior cladding is a rainscreen system that includes a ventilated cavity to resist water intrusion. Interior finishes include cork, linoleum, bamboo, and wood flooring remilled from pilings extracted from Baltimore Harbor. In the landscape, flagstone was reused from sidewalks, and stone for walls came from a dismantled railroad bridge. Crediting the contractor’s initiative in locating and scavenging the stone, Alminana notes, “A project of this ilk tends to attract this kind of thing. It doesn’t happen by chance-the interest is contagious.”

Energy-use reductions were achieved with a highly efficient building envelope, lighting controls, and passive strategies to minimize heating and cooling loads. Solar chimneys exhaust hot air during the cooling season without fans, and wind chimes in the towers signal airflow. Recognizing an opportunity to retire inefficient equipment in other buildings, the team designed the middle school’s mechanical system to distribute hot and cold water to much of the campus.

While Sidwell was built under a bid contract, Kieran argues that innovative projects are better procured through a negotiated contract. “You can’t find enough bidders and subs for LEED Platinum buildings that are willing to take all the risks,” he says. With the contractors contributing to the design process, Kieran notes, they understand and buy into the importance of the green components. In this case, even before it won the bid, HITT Contracting was involved at certain points during the design phase to estimate costs and provide input on constructability, which improved the continuity between design and construction. Because the project had to be substantially completed during the school’s 10-week summer break, HITT recommended using prefabricated panels for the exterior walls, according to the company’s director of sustainable construction, Kimberly Pexton, AIA.

While HITT had previously constructed several LEED-certified projects, it entered new territory with several aspects of Sidwell, including photovoltaics and the constructed wetland. In both of these areas, dividing responsibilities among subcontractors was a challenge. If the photovoltaic (PV) provider isn’t a licensed electrician, Pexton asks, “Where does the PV guy leave off and the electrician pick up?” For the wetland, the team thought it had found a subcontractor that could manage both the landscaping and the piping, but “when they got into it, the actual plumbing aspect was more than they could handle,” says Pexton. So HITT turned that part of the work over to its plumber.

After extensive deliberation, the school elected to pursue LEED Platinum certification to serve as a beacon for the community, according to Saxenian. “We had some concern that this would be seen as frivolous, but we felt compelled by our core values and our belief in the importance of stewardship of natural resources,” he says. Although the school will not prescribe a minimum LEED rating for future buildings, Saxenian says they expect their next project, a new lower school on the Bethesda campus, to achieve LEED Gold.

The school’s commitment to using this project as a learning opportunity extends far beyond the students. A team from Yale University’s School of Forestry and Environmental Studies is studying the school to determine if the project’s green strategies have a measurable effect on student and faculty performance and health. But it will be harder to measure the long-term benefits of providing students with such a deep connection to natural systems, which is so rare in an urban setting.


Washington, D.C., between Rock Creek and Glover Archbold watersheds

GROSS SQUARE FOOTAGE: 72,500 ft2 (6,736 m2)

COST: $28.5 million

COMPLETED: September 2006



PROGRAM: classrooms, library, art/music rooms, science labs, constructed wetland, rooftop container garden


ARCHITECT: KieranTimberlake Associates

COMMISSIONING AGENT: Engineering Economics

INTERIOR DESIGNER: Interior Deisgn Resources

ENGINEERS: CVM Engineers (structural); Bruce E. Brooks & Associates (MEP); VIKA (civil)

LANDSCAPE: Andropogon Associates


WETLAND CONSULTANT: Natural Systems International


Lighting and Daylighting: Sean O¹Connor Associates Lighting Consultants, Benya Lighting Design


PREFABRICATED EXTERIOR WALL PANELS: Global Partners/ Symmetry Products Group Loewen Windows

DOORS: Algoma Hardwoods


MILLWORK: Greenbrier Architectural Woodwork WALLCOVERINGS: Forbo Linoleum



CONTROLS: Lutron Electronics