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City Newsletter

Posted on: September 13, 2022

Groundwater "bubbler" explained

Bubbler 8th at Fetzner_20220908

We’re all accustomed to seeing the Rogue River flow through Grants Pass, but why is there a constant flow of water along a section of NE 8th street near Grants Pass High School?

One might attribute the endless flow to someone who forgot to shut off their garden hose in June, but this water comes from underground, and it began flowing long before June.

And there is no cause for alarm.

There is an abundance of groundwater in the northeast area of Grants Pass, such that some sections would not be developable without drainage. In areas where there is an abundance of groundwater and no drainage to the stormwater system, a “bubbler” is used to mitigate excess groundwater.

A bubbler is a holding tank that, when filled with excess groundwater, passes the overflow out of an opening in the curb, allowing the excess water to flow along the curb gutter until it reaches a stormwater inlet. In the case of NE 8th near Fetzner, the journey is 3/10 of a mile along the east side of the street, where it empties to the stormwater system on A street, and eventually to our familiar river.

We’re not sure exactly when this bubbler was installed, but the water has been flowing long enough that the aggregate material of the concrete gutter is visible in a greater amount than in the concrete gutter before the bubbler, indicating years of erosion. 

It’s safe to presume that water flows from this bubbler year-round, as it’s flowing now in mid-September. Evidence of erosion indicates a greater flow during winter.

Fewer than 10 of this type of bubbler exist in the city, and most are in the northeast section of town; without them channeling water to the stormwater system via curb gutters, development in some areas would not be possible.

If you see clean water coming out of something that resembles a storm drain, don’t be alarmed; it’s likely a bubbler doing its job.


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