Delivering and Evaluating Multiple Flood Risk Benefits in Blue-Green Cities
University of Nottingham

Fact-finding mission to Portland, 2013

Between April 21-28 2013, the Consortium undertook a mission to Oregon, US, to initiate an important international collaboration with the City of Portland (notably the Bureau of Environmental Services, BES).

This networking and fact-finding mission aimed to address the question of whether Portland is a Blue-Green City, and see if their strategies for flood risk management, rejuvenation and ecosystem services could be applicable in UK settings. 

The team headed back to Portland in May 2014 as part of the NSF/EPSRC Clean Water for All programme.

During the first decade of the 21st century, Portland, began its ‘grey to green initiative’. This included implementation of SuDS, river restoration, and parks and ecosystem rejuvenation. Flood risk management was only one of the drivers. Creating structural flood defences using natural materials was a key objective, e.g. Foster floodplain (image top right).

Local communities that directly benefitted from the initiative were supportive and involved with planning and consultation, e.g. The Intertwine and Foster Green Ecodistrict

This shows progression towards a cultural shift that prioritises Blue-Green development and recognises the multiple benefits.

We were encouraged by proactive groups in the Portland City Council, the community and non-governmental organisations (NGOs) who are striving for Blue-Green, e.g. those involved in creating Multnomah County Ecoroof (image bottom right). 

The next steps for Portland include; 

  • gaining support from key-decision makers for the implementation of Blue-Green strategies in wider policy, and 
  • for broad community acknowledgement and adoption of Blue-Green principles and the benefits they provide. 
Environmental Services City of Portland logo

Photograph of natural flood defences (woody-debris and stepped banks) along Johnson Creek, Portland, OR.

 A photograph of Multnomah County Ecoroof, downtown Portland, OR.


Portland Mission Programme

    • Monday 22nd April - Johnson Creek (urban flood control, community engagement and stream restoration) hosted by Maggie Skenderian (Johnson Creek Watershed Manager, City of Portland, Environmental Services) and Gary Wolff (OTAK). 

    • Tuesday 23rd April - SuDS and urban stream management, hosted by Bruce Roll, Watershed Management Director, Clean Water Services (Oregon public utilities company). 

    • Wednesday 24th April - Stormwater Management (conclusion and outcomes of the Combined Sewer Outfall (CSO) replacement program), hosted by Maggie Skenderian and Linda Dobson, Manager, Sustainable Stormwater Division, City of Portland, Environmental Services). 
    • Wednesday evening - Consortium Mission Dinner, with after dinner speech by Mike Houck (author of ‘Wild in the City – Exploring the Intertwine’).

    • Thursday 25th April – Northwest Regional Floodplain Management Association (NORFMA) – One Day Conference (managing multiple pressures and issues on urban floodplains).

  • Friday 26th April – morning: Developing equitable Blue-Green strategies for Portland’s under-engaged communities, hosted by Jeri Williams, City of Portland Neighborhoods Program, e.g. Cully Park. Afternoon: Intertwine Alliance Annual Summit

Blue-Green Cities Research Project

Sir Clive Granger Building,
University of Nottingham,
University Park,
Nottingham, NG7 2RD.

Tel. 0115 8468137