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Frequently Asked Questions

Annexation | Billing | Biosolids | Buffers | Directions & Hours | Drinking Water Providers | Grading | Fees | Permits & Regulations | Sanitary Sewer Service| Septic Systems | Source Control & Industrial Pretreatment | Surface Water Management | Water Quality & Wells

Annexation

Billing

Biosolids

Buffers

Drinking Water Providers

Fees

Permits & Regulations

Sanitary Sewer Service

Source Control & Industrial Pretreatment

Surface Water Management

Water Quality & Wells

What options do I have to annex to a service district for sewer service?
WES administers three Service Districts:

Clackamas County Service District No. 1 (CCSD#1) provides sanitary sewer and surface water services to the North Clackamas Service Area (NCSA) in unincorporated urban Clackamas County, north of the Clackamas River and east of Oatfield Road. Residents of the City of Happy Valley are retail customers of the District. By agreement, territory must annex to the City of Happy Valley before being annexed to CCSD#1 and receiving services. Other areas in CCSD#1 that receive sanitary sewer services only are Hoodland, Boring and Fischer’s Forest Park. Territory is occasionally annexed to the NCSA and Hoodland.

The Surface Water Management Agency of Clackamas County (SWMACC) provides surface water management services in the unincorporated area of Clackamas County in the Tualatin River watershed, including Lake Oswego. The SWMACC boundaries are fixed by the County boundary, City boundaries and the extent of the Tualatin drainage area. No territory is annexed to SWMACC. However, from time to time, territory is removed from SWMACC. As the surrounding cities of Lake Oswego, Tualatin and West Linn annex territory in SWMACC, that area is automatically removed from SWMACC by State statute.

The Tri-City Service District (TCSD) provides regional collection and wholesale sanitary sewer treatment services. The TCSD boundaries coincide with those of the partner cities of Gladstone, Oregon City and West Linn. Property owners must first annex to one of the member cities, then to TCSD. Only those parcels in one or another of the cities can receive sanitary sewer service.

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Why are my water and sewer services separate?
If you live in Clackamas County Service District No. 1, you are billed by Water Environment Services (WES) for sewer, surface water, and, where applicable, on-site maintenance services. Your drinking water services are provided by water districts which overlap our service areas, including Clackamas River, Mt. Scott, Oak Lodge, Damascus, Boring, or the Salmon River Valley Water District. If you live within the limits of one of our city partners, West Linn, Gladstone, Milwaukie, or Oregon City you would receive one bill for water, surface water, and sewer from that city.

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Where can I pay my bill?

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How often do I receive my sewer bill?
Water Environment Services direct bills its single family, commercial, industrial and multi-family customers every month.

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How do I start or stop sewer and surface water services when I move?
Call (503) 742-4567 to open and close accounts when you move, or start or stop service online.

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What does the System Development Charge (SDC) fund?
The SDC is a one-time fee paid when a customer connects to the public sewer system. A single-family residence is charged 1 SDC for 1 equivalent dwelling unit (EDU). See the CCSD#1 Fee Table for the current SDC.

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What does the monthly fee fund?
The monthly sanitary sewer fee funds ongoing operation and maintenance of the public sewer system.

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How can I finance my System Development or Collection Sewer Charges?
There is an installment payment program for the payment of Collection Sewer Charges and System Development Charges. The combined cost must be at least twice the System Development Charge for a single family residence. Applicants must demonstrate equity in the property and supply title insurance equal to the amount of the mortgage. However, there is no guarantee that the installment payment program is less expensive than loans from commercial sources.

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How much does it cost to construct a sewer lateral from the main line in the street to my house?
The cost of building sewer laterals can vary widely. On the low end of the scale, a simple shallow gravity connection to a new house could be as little as $500. Longer, deeper connections from existing houses to the public sewer can be as much as $3,000 to $5,000, including decommissioning a septic tank if necessary.
Because of the wide variation in cost, we always recommend that owners get three bids for connecting their house to the sewer system.

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How do we calculate sewer rates?
The monthly sanitary sewer fee is based on the cost of operating and maintaining the collection and treatment facilities. Maintenance costs include the repair and replacement of equipment over time. Maintenance costs also include a capital component for the complete replacement of obsolete or worn out equipment. Some maintenance costs are incurred to meet permit requirements for discharge into the receiving streams.

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What is the penalty if I pay late?
Account balances over 30 days past due are assessed a penalty of 9% per annum. Once a year delinquent balances may be transferred to owner’s property taxes for collection under ORS 454.225. These delinquent accounts are certified to the tax assessor for attachment to the property tax statement. There is a $50.00 fee attached to each certified account. The fee covers the cost of preparing the certification list and the discounts taken on the tax statement.

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Can I make payment arrangements?
WES will always accept partial payments on any account. However, lengthy payment plans are not allowed to substitute for the certification of delinquent accounts.

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Why am I responsible for the bill if I'm not living there? What happens if I don't pay?
You are responsible for the bill if you are the property owner. Property owners may wish to incorporate the sewer bill with the lease agreement or receive deposits to cover a potential delinquent sewer balance.

Once a year delinquent balances may be transferred to owner’s property taxes for collection under ORS 454.225. These delinquent accounts are certified to the tax assessor for attachment to the property tax statement. There is a $50.00 fee attached to each certified account. The fee covers the cost of preparing the certification list and the discounts taken on the tax statement.

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Why don't you just discontinue service?
There is no way to just shut off the sanitary sewer or surface water service. Individual building sewer pipes do not have shutoff valves. The surface water continues to run from impervious surfaces regardless of any need to discontinue the service. Even if there were a valve to close off the sanitary sewer service, doing so would create a health hazard.

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Where do biosolids come from?
Biosolids produced by Clackamas County’s wastewater service districts originate at the four treatment plants administered by Water Environment Services (WES).

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Why use biosolids?
As our population grows, resource conservation has become essential.
Reclamation of usable by-products from the wastewater treatment process saves money and resources by reducing dependence on petroleum-based fertilizers. Resource recycling through biosolids land application puts nutrients back into the soil, instead of creating more solid waste to go into the landfills.

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How and where are biosolids applied?
Water Environment Services (WES) has a fleet of biosolids tanker trucks. Highly skilled drivers transport biosolids from the treatment facilities to area farmlands.

The State of Oregon’s Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) must approve the fields chosen for biosolids application. DEQ applies strict criteria established by the federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Currently, biosolids are applied on hay, pasture, and Christmas tree farmlands.

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Are there setback rules and regulations if you own property near a creek, river, stream or wetland?
Yes. If you’re considering a development project or changing the landscaping on land with a riparian zone, it’s important to know and understand that there are local, state and federal rules and regulations in place requiring undisturbed buffer zones adjacent to sensitive areas. These changes may also require permits and approvals from government agencies. Please call (503) 742-4594 and we will assist you in analyzing what permits, if any, are necessary for your type of project.

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Who is my water company?
In general, if you live in a city, either the city provides the water service or they can tell you the name of your drinking water provider. Those residing in the unincorporated area of the county can call Water Environment Services at (503) 742-4567. We'll try to help.

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When do I have to pay my fees for a sanitary sewer connection?
The fees are due prior to approval of a building permit. Since we work together with the Clackamas County Building Services section and the City of Happy Valley, approval of the building permit also constitutes approval of the sewer permit.

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When development plans are submitted at the Department of Transportation and Development (DTD) permit counter, are they also routed to WES?
No. WES is a separate department. A separate submittal must be made to WES. This would be equivalent to submitting plans to the water purveyors and the fire district.

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How do I get design and inspection on private developments? Does WES provide these services?
Developers are responsible for hiring their own private civil engineering firm. WES does only plan review. Design, inspection, and construction management are the responsibility of the private civil engineer.

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When I receive land use approval by the County, does that guarantee final plan approval by WES?
No. Land use approval and approval by WES are two separate actions. The County applies the requirements of the Zoning and Development Ordinance while WES uses the Rules and Regulations of the Service Districts. These ordinances address different aspects of development. Land use approval is contingent upon meeting the requirements of several agencies. There is no guarantee that those requirements can be met for any specific development application.

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When I receive WES approval, does that also meet the requirements of the Corps of Engineers or Division of State Lands?
No. Water Environment Services (WES) applies the Rules and Regulations of Clackamas County Service District No. 1 and the Surface Water Management Agency of Clackamas County only. The Corps of Engineers and the Division of State Lands administer separate regulations.

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What phone number should I call in an emergency?
If you have a concern about a sewage spill, flooding, or pollution of any stream or ground water you should call (503) 742-4567 Monday – Thursday, 7:30 am to 5:30 pm. For calls after hours that are non-life threatening call (503) 655-8211.

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When do I have to pay my fees for a sanitary sewer connection?
The fees are due prior to approval of a building permit. Since we work together with the Clackamas County Building Services section and the City of Happy Valley, approval of the building permit also constitutes approval of the sewer permit.

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Which treatment plant serves my household or business?
The cities of Oregon City and West Linn are entirely served by the Tri-City Wastewater Treatment Plant in Oregon City. Gladstone is primarily served by the Tri City Plant, but some sewage flows north to the Oak Lodge plant and a small portion actually flows to the Kellogg plant in Milwaukie.

Wastewater from the City of Milwaukie flows to the Kellogg plant. Wastewater from Happy Valley, Johnson City, and the unincorporated area flows primarily to the Kellogg plant, though some is diverted to the Tri-City plant in Oregon City. Water Environment Services (WES) also operates small sewage treatment plants in Boring, Hoodland, and Fischer's Forest Park (Redland).

Some wastewater flows to the City of Portland in both the Happy Valley area and the Johnson Creek area.

Clean Water Services serves some of the unincorporated area in the far northwest corner of Clackamas County. Both the Clean Water Services and the City of Portland Tryon Creek plant in Lake Oswego serve the City of Lake Oswego.

The cities of Molalla, Sandy and Canby operate and maintain their own wastewater treatment facilities.

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How much does it cost to construct a sewer lateral from the main line in the street to my house?
The cost of building sewer laterals varies. On the low end of the scale, a simple shallow gravity connection to a new house could be as little as $500. Longer, deeper connections from existing houses to the public sewer can be as much as $3,000 to $5,000, including decommissioning a septic tank if necessary.
Because of the wide variation in cost, we recommend that owners get three bids for connecting their house to the sewer system.

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What is a "Collection Sewer Charge" (otherwise known as a "Late Comer's Fee"). Why do I have to pay it?
Each property owner is required to pay their proportionate share of the cost of constructing the collection sewer system. For new subdivisions, the developer constructs the collection systemand then transfers it to the District for operation and maintenance. Some property owners participate in Assessment Districts for the purpose of paying for the construction of collector sewers.

A Collection Sewer Charge is levied when property has never participated in the cost of construction of a collector sewer. This situation occurs as a result of collector sewers being constructed from capital funds of the District without property owner participation. Another source of collector sewer charges is the partitioning of property which has already been assessed for the collector sewer, but the partition makes a larger portion of the property benefited by the collector sewer construction.

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Where is the nearest public recreational vehicle waste dump site? Is the Kellogg Creek or Tri City Wastewater Treatment Plant a recreational vehicle waste dump site?
There is an RV dumpsite in Oregon City at Clackamette Park. The park is located west of McLoughlin Boulevard at the confluence of the Clackamas and Willamette rivers. Neither the Kellogg Creek nor the Tri City Treatment Plant accepts recreational vehicle waste. There is a dumpsite available to the public at Hoodland in the Mt. Hood RV Village.

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Who do I call to report someone pouring chemicals down the sewer drain?
Call Industrial Pretreatment at (503) 742-4567. It is not appropriate to pour or dump hazardous materials into the sanitary sewer at any time.

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Where is the treated water discharged? Is it safe to be in the water near there?
Treated water is discharged from the Tri-City and Kellogg Creek Wastewater Treatment Plants into the Willamette River. The Hoodland WTP discharges into the Sandy River. The Boring WTP discharges into a branch of Deep Creek. Yes, it is safe to be in the water near there. The effluent stream from the plant is mixed with, or diffused, into the river water. In most cases, the effluent stream from a wastewater plant is cleaner than the receiving waters.

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Is grease a problem in sewers?
In the sewage collection and treatment business, the answer is an emphatic YES! Grease is singled out for special attention because of its poor solubility in water and its tendency to separate from the liquid solution.

Large amounts of oil and grease in the wastewater cause trouble in the collection system pipes and the wastewater treatment plant. It decreases pipe capacity and, therefore, requires that piping systems be cleaned more often and/or some piping to be replaced sooner than otherwise expected.

Grease in a warm liquid may not appear harmful. But, as the liquid cools, the grease or fat congeals and causes nauseous mats on the surface of settling tanks, digesters, and the interior of pipes and other surfaces which may cause a shutdown of wastewater treatment units.

Problems caused by wastes from restaurants and other grease-producing establishments have served as the basis for ordinances and regulations governing the discharge of grease materials to the sanitary sewer system. This type of waste has forced the requirement of the installation of preliminary treatment facilities, commonly known as grease traps or interceptors.

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What is a grease trap and how does it work?
A trap is a small reservoir built into the wastewater piping a short distance from the grease-producing area. Baffles in the reservoir retain the wastewater long enough for the grease to congeal and rise to the surface. The grease can then be removed and disposed properly.

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How do I clean my grease trap?
Grease interceptor (GI) and trap maintenance performed by liquid waste haulers consists of removing the entire volume (liquids and solids) from the GI and properly disposing of the material in accordance with all Federal, State, and/or local laws. When performed properly and frequently, grease interceptor and trap maintenance can greatly reduce the discharge of fats, oil, and grease (FOG) into the sewer system.

The required maintenance frequency for grease interceptors and traps depends greatly on the amount of FOG a facility generates and the best management practices (BMPs) the establishment implements to reduce FOG. In many cases, an establishment that implements BMPs will realize financial benefit through a reduction in their required maintenance.

WARNING! Do not use hot water, acids, caustics, solvents, or emulsifying agents when cleaning grease traps and interceptors.

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Can you recommend a maintenance schedule?
All grease interceptors should be cleaned at least twice each year. Some establishments will find it necessary to clean their traps more often than twice per year. If the establishment has to clean it too often, the owner should consider installing a large trap or interceptor.

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Do I have a grease trap?
If the establishment is uncertain whether it has a grease trap, the owner should contact the industrial pretreatment coordinator for the community served.

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Do I need a grease trap?
If the establishment uses large amounts oil and grease, and these are washed to the sanitary sewer system, the establishment should have a grease trap or interceptor.

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Is the grease trap I have adequate?
The size is largely determined by the maintenance schedule. If the trap or interceptor has to be cleaned more often than the owner thinks it should, chances are the size needs to be increased. Typically, a drive-in restaurant will require between a 70-lb and a 100-lb interceptor, depending on the food being prepared.

Grease traps must be maintained properly. The establishment should work out a specific cleaning schedule that is appropriate. All grease traps need to have the grease cleaned out periodically and no one likes to do the job. It is a dirty job. Running extremely hot water down the drain only moves the problem downstream. It does not go away. Catch the grease at the source! This is the most economical means to reduce costs.

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What if I don’t install a grease trap?
If the establishment uses grease and oil in food preparation, it will eventually encounter a maintenance problem with a plugged building sewer line. The blockage can create a sewer backup and ultimately a potential health problem in the establishment. Someone will have to pay for removing the blockage. If the problem is in the building sewer line, the establishment has direct responsibility for paying for the maintenance. If the blockage or restriction is in the public sewer main and it can be proven that the establishment is the cause of the blockage, the establishment may have to pay for the public sewer to be maintained.

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Who determines if I need a grease trap or interceptor?
The initial decision rests with the establishment, but the rules of the Health Department, your municipal sanitary sewer agency, and the Uniform Plumbing Code will assist the establishment in making the correct decision. Oregon State Plumbing Code states that a grease interceptor may be required by the administrative authority. All administrative authorities prohibit the discharge of materials that can solidify and create blockages in the wastewater collection system or treatment plants. The Health Department makes periodic inspections to see that no health problems exist due to improperly maintained grease interceptors. These rules will be enforced if a problem exists.

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How can I be sure I am in compliance with the rules?
The establishment should contact its local jurisdiction. The establishment will be asked to purchase a permit for the grease trap. This will enable the proper jurisdiction to assist the establishment in cleaning schedules and advise them of a problem showing up in the wastewater collection system. A grease interceptor permit is required regardless of whether the establishment has an existing trap or is installing a new one.

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What will be the criteria for grease trap inspection?
All food service establishments suspected of causing problems to the collection system or treatment facilities will be inspected. The grease trap will be inspected using the following criteria:

Percent of Trap Filled Trap Condition
25 Good
25 – 50 Fair
50 Poor

If the trap is in FAIR condition, the establishment should be advised to keep an eye on the maintenance schedule. The cleaning frequency may need to be increased. If the trap is in POOR condition, the establishment should be issued a compliance order to have it cleaned immediately. The establishment should then be required to contact the issuing authority within 30 days to verify that the grease interceptor has been properly cleaned.

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What permit is required to discharge my process wastewater?
It depends on the type of business you have and the volume and pollutant characteristics of the discharge. Contact the Industrial Pretreatment Office at (503) 557-2834.

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What phone number should I call in an emergency?
If you have a concern about a sewage spill, flooding, or pollution of any stream or ground water you should call (503) 742-4567 Monday - Thursday between 7:30 am and 5:30 pm. For calls after hours that are non-life threatening call (503) 655-8211.

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What is Surface Water Management (SWM)?
The SWM Program was implemented in 1993 to address surface water, or “non-point source”, pollution as required by the Clean Water Act. Contaminated surface water runoff has been identified as a major source of pollution in our waterways. Surface water, sometimes called "stormwater", runs off areas including roads, sidewalks, roofs, and even lawns and fields. Urban runoff is often unable to soak into the ground because of impervious surfaces such as pavement and buildings. On its way to a natural body of water, surface water picks up pollutants such as oil and grease, soil erosion, yard debris, litter, animal droppings, and industrial and home chemicals. Surface water management programs aim to reduce the amount of contaminants that reach our waterways by controlling erosion from construction sites, reducing impacts of new development, providing adequate drainage, identifying pollutant sources and taking action to correct and prevent them, and through public outreach.

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How are SWM fees used?
SWM fees are used to fund

  1. water quality monitoring;
  2. investigation of water quality, erosion, and drainage issues;
  3. water quality and drainage improvement projects;
  4. customer service response; and
  5. public education and awareness.

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Does everyone pay a surface water management charge?
Yes, everyone with impervious (nonabsorbent) surfaces pays a SWM fee, including homeowners, churches, schools, governments and businesses. Only unimproved properties and public streets are not charged. Public streets are designed to be part of the stormwater system and direct flow through the storm system.

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How is the surface water management fee calculated?
The SWM charge reflects the amount of impervious surface on each site, which is a measure of increased runoff into the storm drainage system.

The monthly surface water management fee is based on the Equivalent Service Unit (ESU). One ESU equals 2,500 square feet of impervious surface. The current SWM rate is $4 per month per ESU in the SWMACC District and $6.50 per month per ESU in CCSD#1. Single family residences are charged for 2500 square feet of impervious service area or 1 ESU (shown as "1.00 unit" on your billing) per month, based on this average measurement. Non-single family properties, including businesses, schools, governments and industrial areas, pay based on their measured impervious area. For example, a business with 10,000 square feet of impervious surface (4 ESUs) would be charged $16.00 per month ($4.00 X 10,000 sq. ft. ÷ 2,500 sq. ft. = $16.00). Through this approach, properties that contribute more to the need for surface water management pay a greater proportion of the program costs.

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I'm not connected to a stormwater system. Why should I pay?
You may not be directly connected to a stormwater system, but you are provided service through the Surface Water Management Program. The services may be in the form of water quality improvements, systems that protect the area roadways you use, or protection of your home or business from the impact of development upstream. The program is based on the premise that we all live "downstream" and we all need to be part of the funding solution that supports the program. The impervious surface approach is the fair and logical means of allocating these costs..

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What purpose do wetlands serve?
Wetlands serve many functions simultaneously. Not all wetlands are under water all year round. Many species of wildlife are dependent on the existence of wetlands for their survival. Wetlands also serve to improve water quality by filtering out pollutants.

Perhaps the most evident function of a wetland is for flood control. Wetlands often act as water overflow and storage areas in times of heavy rainfall.

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Where do I go to get drinking water tested?
You can call Clackamas County Public Health at (503) 655-8384. They conduct visual inspections of wells, test drinking water, and septic systems. For those wanting to test drinking water from a large public water source, Public Health will give them a list of State approved laboratories.

Find out more at Oregon Department of Human Service Public Health Drinking Water.

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Water Environment Services

Development Services Building

Contact Us

Water Environment Services
150 Beavercreek Rd. Oregon City, OR 97045
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503-742-4567

Monday - Thursday
7:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.