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Down the Drain: Where Does Your Used Water Go?

drainEarlier this year, we shared this “Where does my water come from?” article describing North Plains’ water sources, water quality, and the city’s local water system. Now let’s go on a journey to see what happens to your used water after it drains from your sinks, showers, washing machine, dishwasher, or toilet. Similarly, you may wonder what becomes of the stormwater run-off around town. These sanitary sewer and stormwater services are very much behind the scenes but they are essential to our health and quality of life.

Sanitary Sewer Services

All homes and businesses in North Plains are connected to a sanitary sewer system operated by Clean Water Services (CWS), a regional water resources management utility that serves more than 600,000 residents in urban Washington County, and small portions of Multnomah and Clackamas Counties.

Through this system, your wastewater flows from your home and travels through a series of underground pipes using both a pump system and then gravity to arrive at the Clean Water Services Rock Creek Wastewater Treatment Plant on River Road in Hillsboro. There it is processed and treated to near drinking water quality standards before being released into the Tualatin River. Read more about the Clean Water Services treatment process and innovative ways they recover specific resources here.

Stormwater Services

The City of North Plains also partners with Clean Water Services to operate a Stormwater Management Program within the city that helps to prevent flooding and damage to property and protects the health of local waterways that stormwater flows into. 

CWS provides the overall framework for the public drainage system to comply with DEQ regulations and protect health. They also monitor water quality in the watershed, respond to flooding and water pollution issues, and provide street sweeping in North Plains.

The City’s Public Works Department provides various stormwater maintenance tasks such as cleaning storm drains, inlets, outfalls, drainage basin areas, and catch basins. Public Works also offers an annual leaf pick up program for residents to help prevent leaves from clogging storm drains.

Additional Resources

  • Proper disposal of household hazardous waste, wipes (NEVER down the toilet!), unused or expired prescription drugs, RV waste, leaves, and grass clippings are vital to protecting our environment. Learn how you can help on Clean Water Service’s How to Dispose webpage.  
  • Your Clean Water Services bill includes sanitary sewer & surface water management (SWM) charges that pay for sewer pipes, maintenance and construction, and operation of the wastewater treatment plants as well as for the costs associated with support of the public stormwater drainage system. Learn more details about Clean Water Services billing here.