Protecting Oregon's Environment
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Oregon Department of Environmental Quality

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DEQ Accomplishments

The mission of the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality is to be a leader in restoring, maintaining and enhancing the quality of Oregon's air, water and land. Learn more about DEQ's activities and how we measure success through our Strategic Directions page.

DEQ is made up of more than 700 employees statewide dedicated to working cooperatively with all Oregonians for a healthy, sustainable environment. Check out some of our recent accomplishments below to learn how DEQ is working for you.

Major Accomplishments in 2007-09
Major Accomplishments in 2005-2007

Improving Oregon's Air Quality

  • Greenhouse Gas reporting rules were adopted in 2008 and scheduled for expansion in 2009 to include more emission sources. Reported data will enable DEQ to track Oregon’s progress towards meeting our greenhouse gas emission reduction goals. DEQ is providing guidance and training to help companies submit their initial reports in early 2010. 
  • In 2008, Portland area employees reduced over 3 million drive-alone commute trips by using transit, carpooling, biking and walking as part of DEQ's Employee Commute Options program. This action prevented 134 tons of smog-forming pollution from getting into the Portland region’s air. 
  • DEQ tested 1,136,687 vehicles in the cities of Portland and Medford reducing car and truck emissions by over 170 tons per day. DEQ is creating additional solutions to reduce transportation-related emissions. Solutions include reducing aerodynamic drag in medium- and heavy- duty vehicles, tire efficiency standards, and idling reduction requirements for trucks and ships.
  • DEQ established new fine particulate monitoring stations in McMinnville, Madras and Prineville. In each of these communities fine particulate pollution is a concern and action may be needed to reduce levels to remain in compliance with federal health standards.
  • The agency established a new ozone monitoring station in Bend and continued monitoring for ozone in Hermiston. These were the first ozone monitors on the east side of the Cascades. The new and lower national ozone health standard has increased our interest in this pollutant.
  • New regulations will reduce open field burning in the Willamette Valley from the current 65,000-acre limit to the 35,000-acre limit in 2009. Then starting in 2010 and thereafter, open field burning will be limited to certain grass species grown on steep terrain at the 15,000-acre limit and a 2,000-acre allowance for emergencies.

  • Oregon has a significant number of older high polluting woodstoves. In 2009, DEQ obtained new authority to remove these legacy stoves and set new standards for traditionally exempt woods burning devices. As a key strategy in protecting human health from the effects of fine particulate and air toxic pollution found in smoke, DEQ now requires the removal and destruction of uncertified woodstoves when a home sells.

  • DEQ adopted the Oregon Regional Haze Plan, a comprehensive 3-year evaluation of regional haze in Oregon. The most significant action in the plan is to reduce haze-causing pollutants from the PGE Boardman plant to significantly reduce haze in Oregon and Washington, and protect cultural and natural resources in the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area.

Improving Oregon's Water Quality

  • The agency implemented rules clarifying the requirements for the treatment and use of recycled water. The rules are intended to encourage the use of recycled water for beneficial purposes and to reduce the demand on drinking water sources for uses not requiring potable water. 
  • DEQ developed a significant number of Clean Water Plans and Total Maximum Daily Loads (TMDLs) approved by EPA, including plans for the Rogue, Molalla-Pudding, Miles Creeks, Tenmile, and Bear Creek watersheds. These plans serve as blueprints for communities to reduce water pollution such as bacteria, high temperature, nutrients, sedimentation and chlorinated pesticides.
  • DEQ staff worked with 78 public water systems and communities on special projects, monitoring, land use planning issues, grant awards, public workshops, pollution prevention, and providing GIS mapping assistance.
  • The agency issued over $90 million in low-interest loans from the Clean Water State Revolving Fund to help 33 public agencies and communities construct or upgrade facilities to manage wastewater or implement other water quality improvement projects. 

  • The Eugene Water and Electric Board has reached a $100 million settlement agreement with DEQ and 17 other parties that calls for construction of fish ladders at the Trail Bridge and Carmen Diversion developments and habitat enhancement measures at Smith dam. The agreement also calls for increased minimum flows and additional water quality monitoring.

  • Completed an assessment of the Willamette Basin examining the correlation of land use to water quality. DEQ found that 20 percent of streams are impaired in forest areas, 80 percent in both agricultural and urban areas.

  • Five watersheds throughout the state implemented Pesticide Stewardship Partnerships to improve water quality associated with pesticide use. This approach uses local expertise in combination with water quality sampling and toxicology expertise provided by DEQ. Partnerships have been established in Hood River, Walla Walla, Pudding/, Clackamas, and Yamhill River Watersheds. Significant improvements have been observed in some streams in the last three years. For example, the average concentrations of the insecticides Chlorpyrifos at multiple stream monitoring locations in the Walla Walla watershed decreased by 80% or more between 2006 and 2008.

Reducing Toxic Pollution
  • Building on Pacific Northwest’s success in reducing the amount of benzene in gasoline, Oregon adopted requirements to prevent benzene leaks from gasoline dispensing facilities. These requirements are more protective of human health than national requirements. Each year, Oregon’s new standards for gasoline dispensing facilities will reduce an estimated 26 tons of benzene and 1,480 tons of volatile organic compounds.
  • As part of its agency-wide toxics reduction strategy, DEQ developed a list of 118 “priority persistent pollutants” that pose a potential threat to the state’s environment and residents. This list will help the state identify sources of pollutants and develop ways to reduce their amounts in Oregon waters. DEQ will detail its findings on pollutant sources and reduction opportunities in a report due to the Oregon Legislature on June 1, 2010. 
  • DEQ has embarked on an Oregon Toxics Monitoring Program. While the program will assess toxic pollutants statewide, the agency is focusing initially on identifying the distribution and magnitude of these pollutants in the Willamette River Basin. DEQ recently completed its first year of monitoring work throughout the basin, and has published its findings in a report. It is refining its basin monitoring work based on first-year results and should complete its second year of work in 2010. DEQ plans to expand this effort in future years to other watersheds throughout the state, on a rotating basis.
  • DEQ helped secure grant funds from EPA to help eight communities statewide establish permanent household hazardous waste collection facilities and co-sponsored two agriculture pesticide collection events in the Pudding River watershed (in 2006 and 2007) where a total of over 34,000 pounds of "legacy pesticides" (long-banned farm chemicals) were collected.

  • Oregon E-Cycles, the statewide electronics recycling program financed by electronic manufacturers and jointly implemented by DEQ, collected 9.54 million pounds of electronics in its first six months of operation. More than half the electronics collected (56%) at more than 200 collection sites around the state were TVs. Monitors were 33% of collections, and computers 11%.

  • A total of 130 contaminated properties were cleaned up statewide through investigation and remediation by DEQ's Environmental Cleanup programs.

  • In the summer of 2009, DEQ began the Portland Air Toxics Solutions project. Broad partnerships and a diverse advisory committee of community leaders will ensure a holistic, comprehensive and scientific evaluation of risks from all area sources. The project will develop and implement Oregon’s first geographic-based air toxics reduction plan. DEQ will use the finalized plan to focus DEQ’s emission reduction efforts in the Portland area.

  • Working with DEQ on the Black Butte Mine site, EPA removed contaminated soil from the site in 2007. Additional cleanup work is still needed. Black Butte Mine will be proposed for Superfund Listing in the fall of 2009. As part of the Governor’s commitment to clean up the Willamette River, he endorsed the Superfund listing for the former mine in 2009. Attaining Superfund Listing will be instrumental in prioritizing federal action on this multi-million dollar cleanup project.

  • DEQ required Oregon’s plywood and composite wood products companies to comply as quickly as possible with new national standards to reduce toxic air pollution. DEQ established the compliance schedules in response to a last-minute federal court decision that toughened the national standards. The new standards will reduce air toxics emissions in Oregon by an estimated 500 tons per year.

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Oregon Department of Environmental Quality
Headquarters: 700 NE Multnomah Street, Suite 600, Portland, OR 97232
Phone: 503-229-5696 or toll free in Oregon 1-800-452-4011
Oregon Telecommunications Relay Service: 1-800-735-2900  FAX: 503-229-6124

The Oregon Department of Environmental Quality is a regulatory agency authorized to protect Oregon's environment by
the State of Oregon and the Environmental Protection Agency.

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