Along the Swale: February Flood

A dose of heavy rain

February 12, 2019 Landscapes were not normal today.

This is the usual view of Glencoe Swale from our home this time of year-

This is definitely not what we normally expect to see out our front window-

Precipitation amounts recorded in the Glencoe West rain gauge measured: 1.47 inches on February 11 and 2.75 inches on February 12. The total of 4.22 inches of rain created many areas of high water.

Time for a Glencoe Swale/Creek field-trip… On with the rain gear, grab my camera, and out the door I head with my husband. We’re off for an afternoon outing to investigate water-levels along the watershed from the headwaters to confluence with McKay Creek.

Flood Photo Galleries

The following photo galleries share what we saw and learned along the way.

Glencoe Swale confluence with McKay Creek: 

Pasture areas at the end of NW 10th Street show signs of Glencoe Creek swelling on its way to McKay Creek, but not as dramatically as it has in past high-water occurrences.

Northwest Padgett Road was not closed and the bridge remained passable. It’s fortunate that the stream did not top its banks and flood here. A thoughtless person dumped trash at the side of the road. This likely would have entered the watershed had flood stage occurred. Once in the river system, plastics and other debris would be released into the environment… potentially heading out to sea. Much of the marine debris litter problem begins inland. This is a small example of how that problem can happen. As you read this post, keep an eye out for debris floating in some of the following photos. Hopefully it will help to create an awareness for keeping items out of the stormwater drains. Watch out for items on your street that could become those “innocent” trash items that sneak into our stream systems.

Although McKay Creek was full, it did not spill over its banks. There have been times when this pasture has been inundated with water… this time it remained dry.

NE Glencoe Road:  

Flooding potential is exacerbated when an out-dated style box culvert under the rail road between Glencoe Road and Connell Road either fails due to blockage or is unable to handle the volume of water flowing into it.

When the box culvert is unable to cope with the volume of water it is intended to drain, flooding potential to the east of Glencoe Road occurs. This was the case in this situation. Water was near spilling over Glencoe Road, and impact on the sanitary sewer system was such that a sewage spill was suspected by the City of Hillsboro. Clean Water Services responded, and placed warning signs at the site.

Sanitary Sewer manholes are marked with orange marker poles to make them easily located during times of high water. This one, near the sidewalk that runs between Glencoe Road and the Swale was behaving in a weird way… water bubbling in a boiling fashion*. When this photo was shared with the onsite City of Hillsboro Public Works responder, he immediately alerted Clean Water Services.

*Clean Water Services encourages the public to call Clean Water Services or their city to report dislodged manhole lids or sewage bubbling from manholes.

NE Harewood Street

Water did spill out of Glencoe Swale and put the western end of Harewood Street under water. Flooding on this portion of roadway is not unusual during a high water event.

 NE Shannon/ Glencoe High School : 

The wetland basin between NE Shannon Street land bridge and area north of Glencoe High School held water high enough to launch kayaks. The rise was estimated to exceed a level of approximately two feet of water based on ribbons fastened to tree trunk at the time of highest water during a previous high water event on February 9, 2017.

NE Lenox/ Lorie Drive: 

The updated culvert system installed by Hillsboro Public Works Department during the summer of 2018 prevented chronic flooding that occurred here in the past. Water used to flow deep across this roadway and prevented passage by both vehicles and pedestrians. It looks like the only thing that had trouble getting through this year is a lost soccer ball.

Jackson School Road: 

Water flowed without creating problems under Jackson School Road.

Residents along Glencoe Creek in this area watched swift-flowing water run through their yards.

Jones Farm Neighborhood:

Access to this pond is limited. However, it appears the heavy dose of rain did not create any troublesome situations.

NE 15th Avenue

Water flow in this area was a puzzling contrast of extremes. On the west side of the street at the Emma Jones Wildlife Reserve, the water filled the stream-way, and gave no appearance of flooding.

However, on the east side of the street, the impression was quite different at A Dog’s Hide-Away. Torrents of water streamed down the front of the property and washed across the driveway.

A look behind the property toward the east reveals a confusing intermingling of water flow onto the grounds of A Dog’s Hide-Away.

NE 25th Avenue

Portland Airport Maintenance crew were checking water levels that flowed across the property near the end of the runway. Over the past five years I’ve taken photos for the Glencoe Swale log on many occasions, but I don’t recall ever having seen this much water flowing across the field here. My impression, up until now, was that Glencoe Creek was tiled under the airport. In a conversation with the maintenance crew today, I learned that the creek is not tiled here. The two gentlemen I spoke with remarked that they have seen an increase in the amount of flow as construction around the airport has intensified. They reflected that paving for parking lots and building foundations have removed acres of, what once were, permeable land and speculated that as the reason for more water flowing through the airport area.

Hillsboro Airport from Evergreen Road:

NW Sewell Road

Glencoe Creek water flows across agricultural land toward Hillsboro Airport.

Hillsboro Public Works

Intermittent  flow of Glencoe Creek occurs during time of rain events.

Starr Blvd.

Look behind this gate to find the headwaters for Glencoe Creek. Today, there is more water in the compound than I have seen on previous visits here.

What confuses me is the extreme amount of water collected outside the headwater compound. Pay-haulers and large dump trucks loom in the distance as the North Hillsboro Industrial complex begins to destroy permeable land.

I end the day of Glencoe Swale/Creek photography with a question-

Could infra-structure stresses along the Glencoe Creek watershed exacerbate future flood problems?

I wonder about what I’ve seen and learned at properties like the Hillsboro Airport and A Dog’s Hide-away. And… with sanitary sewer problems like the one at Glencoe Road…

My hope… agencies who are involved with altering this ecosystem talk to each other and look at the big picture cause-and-effect of development. In theory, in regulation, in law, in policy-making,  I understand this is supposed to happen… but, in reality, it must be so. How can we be sure?


  1. That certainly is an impressive amount of water, and happy that it seems little damage was caused to housing and infrastructure. So many places suffer from difficulties on the other end of the scales, and then parts like yours suffer deluges. The natural cycles of dry and wet, I know, but doesn’t it seem to be going to the extreme at both ends more often of late?


    1. You are probably right. The airport and dog retreat photos certainly provide some local support for your question,however, I also believe changes in our City’s infrastructure will also continue to have impact.

      Liked by 1 person

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