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Watershed Protection

May contain: ditch, person, and human

A watershed is a land area that channels rainfall and snow melt to creeks, streams, and rivers, and eventually to outflow points such as catch basins, ditches, creeks, and rivers. Keeping our watersheds clean helps humans, animals, fish and plants thrive.

Runoff from storm water is the most significant source of water pollution in our state. Rain water washes over streets, roofs, lawns, and parking lots, picking up trash, oil, sediment, bacteria, and pesticides. Polluted runoff washes into our local storm drains, ditches, creeks, wetlands, and the Willamette River.

If you have any comments or questions regarding this information, please contact Brad Albert, District Engineer at or by phone at (503) 353-4202.

OLWS protects water quality through: 

Surface Water Management (SWM) programs protect water quality by implementing technical and educational requirements for the MS4 Permit. The Stormwater Management Program complies with the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) under the federal clean water act.

  • The surface/stormwater collection system includes all publicly maintained pipes, culverts, catch basins, channels, ditches, ponds, wetlands and related waterways. 
  • In OLWS, Clackamas County Department of Transportation and Development owns and maintains the drainage system for surface water - including the condition and size of pipes, catch basins, and drainage ditches. 
  • OLWS cleans catch basins and pipes in the county-owned system and takes responsibility for monitoring water quality in the OLWS boundary area. The County cleans culverts and ditches and repairs and maintains catch basins, pipes, culverts, and ditches.
In the agreement with Clackamas County - Department of Transportation and Development (CCDTD), OLWS is responsible for the following: 

i. Annually inspect all catchbasins in one of five zones of OLWS.
ii. Conduct catchbasin and line maintenance as needed based on in­spection results as a preventive maintenance measure.
iii. Provide routine customer service response throughout the District, and route emergency service requests to Clackamas County for emergency response, including flooding of roads, safety risk, or additional ditch cleaning, street sweeping, and winter road maintenance. 
iv. Respond to routine service requests that Clackamas County sends over, communicate back to Clackamas County about nature of res­olution.
v. Collect and share data from tasks completed and provide to CCDTD, for inclusion into the MS4 Annual Re­ports.

How you can help protect local creeks and the Willamette River: 
  • Keep leaves, grass clippings, animal waste, dirt, and litter out of storm drains, ditches, creeks, ponds and wetlands.
  • Use non-toxic alternatives or least toxic pesticides and herbicides.
  • Pick up pet waste. It contains bacteria and parasitic organisms that can wash into local waterways and contaminate streams.
  • Plant ground cover and shrubs to cover bare earth and prevent erosion.
  • Mark storm drains in your neighborhood with the “Dump No Waste, Drains to Streams” message. Contact OLWS for free materials and instructions.
  • Properly dispose of or recycle motor oil, antifreeze, paint, solvents and other toxic materials. For proper disposal information, call Metro Recycling Information at (503) 234-3000.
  • If you would like to do more, check out the North Clackamas Watershed Council for volunteer opportunities in your community. 


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