Oregon Ag looking for possible pollution sites

  • The Oregon Department of Agriculture will kick off two pilot projects this summer, in which it actively looks for agricultural water polluters. Currently the state goes after pollutors only when it receives complaints. credit: Oregon Department of Agriculture
The Oregon Department of Agriculture will kick off two pilot projects this summer, in which it actively looks for agricultural water polluters. Currently the state goes after pollutors only when it receives complaints. | credit: Oregon Department of Agriculture | rollover image for more

The Oregon Department of Agriculture is taking a more aggressive approach to stop water pollution from farms.

Instead of waiting for complaints to come in from the public, the state is going to begin looking for polluters.

The Oregon Board of Agriculture asked the department to develop a new plan a year ago. The board wanted the department to move away from its complaint-based program. The board approved the new plan Thursday.

The new plan will begin with the assessments of agricultural land to determine where problems exist.

Ray Jaindl, who directs the department’s natural resources program, says his staff will be looking for at least three major issues:

  • lack of streamside vegetation.(Vegetation keeps the water cool for fish.)
  • upland conditions that could cause erosion.
  • improper storage of livestock manure and waste.

The Agriculture Department will kick off two pilot projects this summer in areas that are known to have poor water quality. One will be on the east side of the state, the other on the west side. Five areas that already have been identified as potential pilot sites include:

  • North Fork Deep Creek (Clackamas Management Area)
  • Tillamook River (Tillamook Management Area)
  • Little Butte Creek (Inland Rogue Management Area)
  • Mill Creek (Lower Deschutes Management Area)
  • Birch Creek (Umatilla Management Area)

The Agriculture Department will depend on its local partners, including Soil and Water Conservation Districts, to help farmers fix problems on their properties.

If landowner fail to take action, the department will begin enforcement actions.

Staff will conduct followup visits. They also will conduct assessments after changes are made in order to judge the success of the program.

Controlling water pollution from agricultural lands is an issue throughout the Pacific Northwest.

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