Hermiston Street Department Offering Roadside Swale Conversions

The city of Hermiston is offering residents the opportunity to convert their grass swells into rock. (Photo by Michael Kane)

The Hermiston Street Department is taking reservations to convert roadside grass swales into rock on residential and commercial properties in Summer 2023. 

Grass swales are the sunken areas adjacent to roadways and are an important part of the city’s stormwater retention infrastructure. Residents wishing to convert swales from grass to rock in front of their homes must have a street department crew complete the work. 

“The grassy swale system has been a critical part of our infrastructure to handle stormwater runoff and meet state environmental standards since the late 1990s, but we also know that many homeowners really dislike the physical design of having what amounts to a ditch right where passengers are exiting vehicles from the street,” said Hermiston Assistant Manager Mark Morgan. “We’re happy to now be able to offer a rock-based design which still meets environmental standards and can handle runoff while creating a flat surface that is more user-friendly for homeowners and businesses.”

Reservations are on a first-come, first-served basis and require a $250 deposit that is credited toward the final cost of the project. The city hopes to complete as many as 50 conversions this summer. 

Property owners are responsible for maintaining swales but are not allowed under city ordinance to replace them independently. Properly converting a grass swale to rock creates a level surface while maintaining adequate water collection and drainage. 

For more information about swale replacement or to reserve a spot for work this summer, call 541-667-5025. 


  1. $250 deposit ??? Homeowners can go to our local nursery and for around $20 you can get a “bucket” full (that is attached to a backhoe) of rocks. And a landscape weed barrier to lay down after grass is removed before adding rocks.
    A lot of Homeowners won’t pay for this outrageous price since the city won’t allow them to do this on their own when it’s the Homeowners responsibility to maintain it.
    So the grass will keep looking like crap due to the high cost of water in our little town of Hermiston. If you drive around you would see dead landscape everywhere in the front and backyard of home’s that was once a beautiful community.

  2. Another way to make money for the city. I feel they and the home builders are in each other’s pockets. They knew this was a ridiculous idea in the first place. Charging home owners for something they already maintain and pay taxes on.

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