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Naomi moved to Portland, OR after completing her MEM at the Nicholas School in 2002 and began working at the City of Portland shortly thereafter. She has been a part of the Willamette Watershed Team at the Bureau of Environmental Services (BES) for over 10 years. The Willamette Team is part of the BES Watershed Services Group which is led by another Nicholas School alum, Jane Bacchieri. Watershed Services works to protect and restore watersheds for clean water, lower infrastructure costs, and a healthier city.
BES is a national leader in using green infrastructure to better manage stormwater. Rather than sending stormwater into pipes, which are often too small to handle the volume of water running off of the city’s impervious surfaces, green infrastructure such as green streets, rain gardens, street trees, and natural areas absorb rainwater and restore some natural hydrologic function within the city. The benefits of green infrastructure include (among others) improved water quality and hydrologic function, lower construction costs, maintained capacity of existing pipe systems, improved habitat for wildlife, flood mitigation, and improved air quality.
BES built pilot green infrastructure projects in the 1990’s and moved toward broader application as these technologies were proven to be effective. Naomi has been a key member of projects that take green infrastructure to the next level. Much of Naomi’s work has focused on decision making methods that allow for evaluation of alternatives at the planning level that contain both “grey” (e.g., pipe) and green infrastructure solutions. She has provided a way for BES to account for benefits beyond traditional metrics such as cost and volume of stormwater by applying multi-attribute utility analysis (MUA) to compare alternatives. One of these projects, called Tabor to the River, selected a “green and grey” alternative composed of 500 green streets, 100 private property rain gardens, 3,500 street trees, repairing or replacing 81,000 linear feet of sewer pipe, and natural area restoration. This “green and grey” alternative provided more benefits and cost $63 million dollars less to construct than the “all grey” alternative. Tabor to the River is now in its fifth year of construction. In addition to heading the street tree planting and natural area restoration aspects of Tabor to the River, Naomi continues to work on planning projects and is part of a team that is incorporating green infrastructure into BES’s Asset Management work.
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