Hot water remains the top source of pollution in Oregon’s waterways, DEQ says in EPA-approved report

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PORTLAND, Ore. (KTVZ) – Hot water continues to be the number one source of pollution in Oregon’s rivers and streams, according to the latest and most detailed report produced by the Department of Water Quality. Oregon environment.

The 2022 Integrated State Water Quality Report, as it is called, has now been approved by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and becomes the official record of the current state of the waters. of State.

Every two years, DEQ is required to analyze the condition of thousands of miles of Oregon’s waterways, using monitoring data provided by a wide variety of organizations and individuals, including its own measurements. of the agency. Information is compiled into an interactive online map that allows users to locate everything from small sections of rivers and streams to lakes, coastal waters or entire watersheds, and learn what could be affecting water quality. water.

“This information is critical to building public awareness and understanding of the state of our rivers and watersheds,” said Connie Dou, DEQ’s Water Assessments Manager. “Oregon has some of the most scenic and pristine waters in the world. But we also face clear challenges in protecting water quality for fish, drinking and recreation.

As in previous reports, the top four deficiencies continue to be temperature; dissolved oxygen; degraded aquatic insect communities, also called biocriteria; and impairment caused by pathogens (E. coli).

To compile the report, DEQ water quality staff scoured 7.6 million records from more than 3,000 monitoring stations. They looked at water temperature, the presence of bacteria or other toxic contaminants, relative acidity, oxygen levels and other measures of water health.

If a section of river is considered “impaired”, i.e. it contains too much of any of the above pollutants to fully protect aquatic life or drinking water, or allow for recreational use safe and fish consuming, it is placed on a federal list, known as the 303(d) list. Waters on this list are subject to additional environmental protections and cleanup plans.

Dou commended the work of the water quality staff who produced the report. “This is the most comprehensive look at state or Oregon waters that DEQ has ever produced,” she said. “It represents a tremendous staff effort and rigorous science that will serve the public.”

DEQ has also determined that low oxygen, also known as marine hypoxia, is a potential concern in Oregon’s coastal waters, but DEQ’s current data and ability to assess ocean conditions is insufficient. to identify the water as impaired. DEQ convened a scientific technical working group to help characterize changing ocean conditions in future integrated reporting cycles. Working with this group, DEQ plans to define an appropriate methodology to assess the health of Oregon’s territorial waters.

About the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality
The Oregon Department of Environmental Quality protects human health and the environment by controlling air and water pollution, reducing impacts from manufactured products, and cleaning up contaminated properties. DEQ engages the public in decision-making and helps communities solve problems in an economically and environmentally sustainable way.

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