Oregon Environmental Council wants to curb urban pollution of watersheds

The Oregon Environmental Council wants to cut water pollution one storm drain at a time, and the Portland-based nonprofit has singled out the Rogue and Willamette basins for a new approach toward curbing urban pollution of the region's watersheds.

The OEC is hosting its second wave of community workshops meant to help municipal governments, developers, city leaders and the general public better understand how they can tackle urban runoff in more effective ways.

This new series of five workshops — including ones planned Thursday in Medford, May 1 in Grants Pass and May 28 in Central Point — outline cost-effective ways to protect watersheds from damage and pollution caused by urban runoff, says Teresa Huntsinger, the OEC's project director.

They include the planning, engineering and building of systems that put more water into the ground and less directly into creeks or rivers.

Thursday's workshop will be from 8:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the RCC-SOU Higher Education Center, 101 S. Bartlett St., Medford.

The guest speaker will be Larry Coffman, a pioneer of low-impact development that includes using rain gardens to filter and percolate storm water.

On May 1, a workshop entitled "Making Low-Impact Development a Reality in the Rogue Valley" will run from 8:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Josephine County Courthouse, 500 NW Sixth St., Grants Pass.

That workshop will include a panel discussion with local builders, designers and planners.

A May 28 workshop planned for Central Point will focus on how local governments can rework municipal codes to encourage innovative ways for developers to create storm-water management plans that enhance water quality.

That workshop is scheduled to be held at Rogue Valley Sewer Services, 138 W. Vilas Road, Central Point.

The cost for each workshop is $20. Members of local home builders associations pay $10. The cost includes lunch.

Two other April workshops are planned for Eugene.

For details and registration information, visit www.oeconline.org/stormwater.

The workshops are funded by grants from state and private organizations and foundations.

Reach reporter Mark Freeman at 776-4470, or e-mail mfreeman@mailtribune.com.

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