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PROPOSED MEASURE XX-XXX

In May 2024, Multnomah County voters in the flood district will have the opportunity to vote on a bond measure which would upgrade flood safety infrastructure, protecting water quality, communities, businesses, and the environment if passed.

 

Mail or drop off your ballot by May 21st!

  • Upgrade 7 aging pump stations.

  • Replace or upgrade aging and undersized pump stations. 

  • Add capacity and redundancy where needed.  

  • Make pumps more reliable and upgrade debris management.

  • Back-up power capacity to critical pump stations in case of a power failure.
     

  • Upgrade safety and efficiency of infrastructure operations and maintenance.

  • Upgrade access to and safety of pump stations.

  • ​​Provide a safe and efficient space to support operations and maintenance during normal conditions and emergencies.

  • Natural flood protection. Restoration of wetlands to store floodwaters and upgrade fish and wildlife habitat.

  • Integrated design features for climate resilience, environmental upgrades, equity, and sharing the cultural history of the floodplain. Where possible, District-led projects would integrate these project objectives during the design phase. 

BACKGROUND

Residents within urban Multnomah County currently receive flood protection services along the Columbia River flood zone. This area includes:

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Nearly 8,000 residents

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50% of the region's manufacturing and warehouse jobs

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2nd largest source of drinking water in Oregon

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16M+ passengers annually at PDX

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$16B in annual economic activity

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2,000+ acres of open space and natural habitat

The current flood safety system is over 100 years old. In a changing climate, the system does not meet the federal government’s current flood control requirements. ​​If passed, bond proceeds would upgrade aging infrastructure along the Columbia River. If passed, the estimated annual tax rate for bonds would be $0.11 per $1,000 of assessed property value. The owner of a home assessed at $246,712 would pay $26.27 per year or $2.19 per month. 

Congress authorized nearly $100 million for flood safety projects in Multnomah County. If the measure passes, the District could use the tax revenue to provide the local match necessary to access the federal funds. 

If passed, the District would establish a bond oversight committee and require audits.

Proposed bond Projects

If passed, this measure would authorize a tax increase to fund:

 

  • Raising levees, upgrading floodwalls, pumps, pipes, and drains in selected areas.  

  • Increasing resilience with natural flood protection, such as the restoration of wetlands to store floodwaters and upgrade fish and wildlife habitat.

Specific projects include:

  • Elevate and repair an estimated 9 miles of selected sections of the levee and floodwall system.

  • Make levees and floodwalls stronger and more reliable by filling in low spots and widening selected sections.  

  • Build a new levee and floodwall along the segment of the 1948 levee breach. 

  • Upgrade levee surface to prevent erosion and support safe, reliable maintenance.

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FAQs

If the measure passes, will it increase taxes?

For residents within urban Multnomah County, the measure, if passed, would increase the local property tax rate by $0.11 per $1,000 of assessed property value. The owner of a home assessed at $246,712 would pay $26.27 per year or $2.19 per month. 

When will Measure XX-XXX be on the ballot?

May 2024. Ballots must be postmarked or placed in a dropbox by 8pm, May 21.

Why is the District referring this measure to the ballot now?

The current system does not meet federal flood safety standards. Currently, there is an opportunity to access $100 million in federal matching funds, which would be available if the measure passes.

How were the proposed projects selected?

The proposed projects were identified by engineering assessments, a comprehensive summary of the district’s flood safety assets, and a plan to complete specific projects. Sources of project background data include: 1) Levee Recertification Assessments, which identify the projects necessary to maintain FEMA accreditation (under 44 CFR 65.10) and allow residents and businesses to access low-cost flood insurance under the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP). 2) Portland Metro Levee System Study by the US Army Corps of Engineers to identify risks and develop a plan to make the system stronger and more resilient. 3) Drainage Master Plans to evaluate the pipes, drainage ditches, and pump stations that collect and direct rainwater inside the levee system. These plans identify areas that need improvement to keep roads, homes, and businesses dry during big rainstorms.

What is a levee?

A levee is an extended natural or artificial mound of earth that reroutes the flow of water. Many levees are made of sand and silt. Levees were constructed by the federal government and local communities throughout the 20th century to prevent rivers from flooding cities, agricultural, and industrial areas. In the greater Portland area, levees were designed early in the 20th century to operate as one system, along with ditches, culverts, and pump stations, to collect or divert rain and runoff and keep the 13,000-acre managed floodplain next to the Columbia River dry year-round. Today, the managed floodplain is densely developed with homes, businesses, highways, and the PDX airport. The levee system that protects the floodplain from flooding is now over 100 years old and no longer meets federal standards.

How can the natural environment help mitigate flooding?

Restoring wetlands, stream channels, and other natural areas in the floodplain provides natural flood protection. Natural flood management strategies are an established practice in engineering manuals from the Army Corps of Engineers, recommended by FEMA, and actively deployed by flood agencies around the world. 

Who manages the flood safety system?

Four small governmental entities called drainage districts have historically been responsible for maintaining the levee system. The drainage districts were originally established in 1917. Despite the significant changes in the land use in the area, the funding and oversight structures that were established a century ago are still being used today. In 2019, the Oregon State Legislature passed Senate Bill 431, creating a new district to modernize the management of these flood control systems. The Urban Flood Safety & Water Quality District (the “UFSWQD”) is currently led by an interim board and will ultimately replace the four drainage districts that manage the system today once operating revenues are in place. If Measure XX-XXX passes in May 2024, voters would elect a majority of the board on a subsequent ballot. The governor would also appoint other expert board members.

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