Removing Pavement for a Cleaner Johnson Creek

By Elizabeth Brosig, Restoration Project Manager

This fall, JCWC partnered with Depave, a local nonprofit organization that specializes in removing pavement and empowering communities, to complete the first stage of implementation for a stormwater retrofit project at the Trinity Lutheran Church in Gresham. On Saturday, October 21st, over 30 volunteers and staff from JCWC and Depave joined forces to remove 2,250 square feet of pavement from four sections of the Church parking lot. Following the expert example set by staff and crew leaders from Depave, volunteers utilized very large pry bars and worked together to loosen the pre-cut asphalt squares. They loaded up larger pieces onto a hand dolly and smaller pieces into a wheelbarrow and wheeled them into large drop boxes. Removing pavement is a lot of work, and afterwards everyone was excited to enjoy well-deserved chicken and vegan burritos. 

Group of 30 volunteers posing for a group photos. Volunteers are smiling with hands raised in the air. In front of the volunteers are tools used for removing concrete and a wheel barrow.

The full crew of volunteers, Depave crew leaders, Depave Staff, and JCWC staff ready to start removing pavement from the Trinity Lutheran Church parking lot. Photo by Sima Seumalo.

The areas where volunteers removed pavement will be planted as rain gardens as part of the upcoming 2024 Watershed Wide Event. Rain gardens capture and slow down stormwater that runs off of the pavement and improve water quality by filtering out pollutants. Stormwater runoff collects a variety of pollutants, including oil, tire particles, and trash. By collecting the stormwater in rain gardens, many pollutants are filtered out of the water before it enters important waterways like Johnson Creek. 

A group of 8 volunteers work together to remove a large piece of concrete. 2 volunteers are on the left side of the concrete pulling towards them while 4 volunteers on hte rights side of the slab of conrete use pry bars to push.

Volunteers working together to pry loose the pre-cut squares of asphalt. Photo by Sima Seumalo.

Unfortunately, stormwater is piped directly into Johnson Creek at many locations in the watershed, bringing all of the pollutants picked up on the way. Trinity Lutheran Church is one of these locations, at just 750 feet away from Johnson Creek as the crow flies. All of the hard work removing pavement and installing rain gardens at the Church will help filter stormwater before it gets to the creek. JCWC is looking for opportunities to work with landowners to reduce the impacts of stormwater runoff throughout the watershed. 

A volunteer pushes a large piece of concrete on a dolly towards a ramp to load the concrete into a dumpster. Another volunteer watches on in support.

Volunteer getting a running start to load the asphalt square into the drop box. Photo by Elizabeth Brosig.

A huge thank you to everyone that helped break ground on this project and to the City of Gresham, East Multnomah Soil & Water Conservation District, Oregon Watershed Enhancement Board, and other mitigation funds for funding. 

If you are interested in planting these rain gardens, keep an eye out for the volunteer event announcement this spring! And if that’s not soon enough, we will be planting rain gardens at Stonebridge Apartments in SE Portland on December 2nd, check out our event page to sign up!

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