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City ends subsidies for downspout disconnections

Program deemed a success

The city of Portland is ending its $53 subsidy to residents who disconnect their home downspouts, a program that spurs people to channel rooftop rain collections onto their property, rather than drain into city streets.

After 18 years, the Portland Bureau of Environmental Services canceled the program, saying it has succeeded beyond expectations.

'Really there's not much left to disconnect,' says Linc Mann, bureau spokesman. 'It's been wildly successful.'

The program keeps more than 1.2 billion gallons of water out of the city's combined sewer system each year. That enabled the city to build smaller pipes in its massive Combined Sewer Overflow project, which was designed to prevent the overstressed sewer system from dumping untreated sewage into local rivers.

The end of the subsidy doesn't mean people should stop disconnecting downspouts or end efforts to divert storm water onto their property, Mann said. Homeowners still qualify for reduced storm water utility fees if they manage storm water on site, rather than allow it to flow onto the streets and into the city sewer system.