Oregon Drinking Water Protection Program
Drinking Water Protection Program Activities: Adapted from the OHA/DEQ Annual Report to EPA - June 2012
The Oregon Health Authority Drinking Water Program and its partner agency, the Department of Environmental Quality Drinking Water Protection Program, implement drinking water protection in Oregon. Oregon’s Drinking Water Protection activities for both DEQ and OHA through June 30, 2011 are summarized below. Additional detail can be found in our annual report to EPA.View All Content|Collapse All Content
Source Water Assessment Data Availability and Use
Oregon continues to improve access to data about drinking water source area assessments. Maps and statewide GIS shapefiles of drinking water source areas and potential sources of contamination are available on
DEQ also regularly provides drinking water data to local governments, Federal contractors, and consultants when effective security of the data is provided.
Assisting Individual Public Water Systems
As of June 2012, 237 community water systems have “substantially implemented” a strategy to protect their drinking water. These systems include many of Oregon’s larger communities and serve about 3.2 million Oregonians, 84 percent of the estimated 3.8 million Oregonians served by community water systems. “Substantial implementation” occurs when Oregon agencies determine that actions have been taken to appropriately reduce the risk of potential contamination within the community water system source water area. These actions can take place at the state, regional and/or local levels.
Both OHA and DEQ provide technical assistance to water systems that request it, regardless of whether their intention is to develop a full drinking water protection plan or simply identify and implement key protective measures for their source water. Many of these systems and the state assistance do not qualify for “substantial implementation” status, but their interest and positive correspondence demonstrates an awareness of the issues and a desire to be involved to the extent their resources allow.
Statewide and Regional Projects
Irrigon Regional Water Sampling and Protection
The City of Irrigon developed new public water system groundwater wells in 2007 to replace wells lost due to nitrate contamination. The two new wells are shallow and located near the Columbia River. Water quality tests on the new wells immediately showed the presence of nitrate and further monitoring indicated an increasing nitrate concentration. The city requested help from the Governor’s Office and state agencies tasked with preventing groundwater contamination. DEQ and OHA collaborated on a new Source Water Assessment document for the city in 2011. This served as a basis for understanding the risks of nitrate and other contaminants affecting the new wells. The city was awarded a Drinking Water Source Protection Fund grant in 2011 (actual funds to be awarded in Sept 2012) to develop strategies and implement protection within the groundwater source area. DEQ convened a local task force with other partners to implement a sampling and analysis plan in early 2012 and started on an interim outreach project for nitrate reduction.
Clackamas River Drinking Water Protection Work
The Clackamas River Water Providers (six municipal water
providers on the Clackamas River that serve over 300,000 people)
completed a robust drinking water protection plan in 2010 and have
subsequently been implementing regional strategies in the Clackamas
watershed. In 2011, the water providers in partnership with the
Clackamas County and Marion Soil and Water Conservation Districts
and the Clackamas River Basin Council held two Pesticide Round Up
Events partially funded by a Clean Water Act 319 nonpoint source
grant. More than 100 participants brought in over 56,000 pounds of
pesticide waste. The nursery industry was a major participant but
other groups also took part including vegetable and berry growers,
golf courses and several smaller PWSs including a school district
and manufactured home park. Legacy pesticides (some banned as early
as the 1970’s) were collected including DDT, Chlordane and Dioseb.
In addition, approximately 1,500 pounds of clean and residue-free,
triple-rinsed plastic containers were also accepted for recycling at
no charge to producers. See the DEQ fact sheet or the Clackamas
River Water Providers website for more information on its pesticide
Drinking Water Source Monitoring Project
New sampling was performed as part of Phase III of the Drinking
Water Source Monitoring project in early 2012. The locations of the
source water sampling were selected based on detections of nitrates
and other contaminants of concern in SDWIS monitoring. The samples
were taken above the surface water intakes and at wells for analysis
of a list of over 250 Oregon-specific herbicides, insecticides,
pharmaceuticals, VOCs (including cleaners), fire retardants, PAHs,
personal care products, and plasticizers. The purpose of the Source
Monitoring project is to collect data from multiple contaminant
sources to assist in determining priorities for technical assistance
and prevention, and to collect screening level data on whether there
are potential human health risks beyond those routinely monitored
within the SDWA regulations.
Nonpoint Source Coordination
DEQ’s nonpoint source specialist for drinking water regularly
assists the Nonpoint Source program with forestry and agriculture
issues, provides reviews on NPS program efforts, and participates in
committees working to improve FPA rules for stream
protection-benefits to fish and drinking water, especially in Coast
Range. Staff reviewed the technical basis for turbidity standard
revisions, participated as part of Internal Review Team, and wrote a
draft document detailing drinking water protection options for
Tualatin Watershed GIS Demonstration Project
DEQ participated in several 2011 and 2012 webinars and conference calls to share results and benefits from the GIS demonstration project in the Tualatin watershed. The GIS products from the Tualatin project continue to be used by partners working within the watershed. This was a national demonstration project integrating land use and water quality issues, called “Enabling Source Water Protection: Aligning State Land Use and Water Protection Programs”. The work was completed in June 2010 under a grant from the US Environmental Protection Agency in partnership with The Trust for Public Land, Smart Growth Leadership Institute, Association of State Drinking Water Administrators, and River Network. The goal of Oregon’s project was to create a replicable GIS-based tool to assist in prioritizing lands and sensitive areas for protection in the watershed above drinking water intake(s) by identifying healthy lands most important for conservation of water quality and identifying impaired lands that ought to be restored to help protect water quality. Much of the GIS research and the methods used for the project completion will be useful in other watersheds when assessments are undertaken.
Public Water System Locator Web Tool
Initiated in 2010, DEQ continues to update the web-based tool designed to allow agency staff, permittees, and the public to easily identify and obtain contact information for downstream public water system intakes. This was initially designed to assist NPDES permittees as they develop and implement Emergency Notification and Response Plans but is also useful for other applications as well. For example, DEQ’s water quality permit staff use the tool to identify beneficial uses and suction dredge miners applying for the new 700-PM general permit are directed to this tool to identify downstream public water supplies. The website also provides a summary of the Source Water Assessment report for surface water systems and links to OHA’s Data Online for contact information of public water suppliers that may be affected by a release or spill.
Coordination with the Oregon Toxics Reduction Strategy
DEQ drinking water staff continued working in 2011 toward developing an agency-wide comprehensive, integrated approach to address toxic pollutants in the environment. The integrated approach is essential because these pollutants readily transfer from one environmental media to another. DEQ's cross-media toxics reduction strategy is being developed through the assistance of 11 separate DEQ programs that already address some aspect of toxic management, including drinking water protection. The objectives of this strategy include optimizing agency resources by focusing on the highest priority pollutants in a coordinated way, implementing actions that reduce toxic pollutants at the source, and establishing partnerships with other agencies and organizations to increase the effective use of public and private resources. The drinking water protection program input has been useful for assistance in identifying sources of toxics, selecting toxic reduction priorities, and prioritizing the statewide human health risks. A 2012 strategy report is available on DEQ's Toxics Reduction website.
Watershed Basin Assessments and Action Plans
DEQ continues to develop drinking water-specific sections and
data input for the Watershed Assessment Reports, including
identifying drinking water sources, drinking water quality issues,
potential contaminant sources and recommendations for action. These
assessments draw on the expertise of DEQ’s 17 water quality
sub-programs include recommendations for actions that DEQ and others
who are interested in these basins can take to improve water
quality. To date, these in-depth assessments have been developed for
the for the North Coast, South Coast, Deschutes, Rogue,
Powder/Burndt, and Clackamas/Sandy basins. The Umatilla and
Willamette basins assessments are in progress.
Land Use Planning Assistance
Coordination with State and Federal Agencies
Forest and Agriculture
Water Resources Department
OHA also collaborates with the Oregon Water Resources Department to develop a Water and Monitoring Well Data Standard that will specify a common method for locating and identifying water and monitoring wells in the state. The data standard will allow users to acquire data from disparate sources and use the results in an appropriate manner for the required need, such as well drillers logs, water-level data, water quality data, etc. The standard was endorsed by the Oregon GIS Standards Forum in January 2012. Once funding is available, an internet based repository will be completed and locational data will be entered into the repository. Once data is entered into the repository, it will become easier to assess current and historic water quality within identified Drinking Water Source Areas.
Other OHA Programs
During the current reporting period, OHA staff used Source Water Assessment tools to provide guidance and/or review the final construction of 150 public water supply wells and springs that went through the OHA Plan Review process. The assessment of well construction and aquifer characteristics helped ensure that each public water supply well either met current construction standards or, if not, were appropriately identified for 12 months of source water assessment monitoring under the Groundwater Rule. Data regarding new wells is maintained by OHA in the water system's Source Water Assessment file to be used later when implementation staff re-evaluate the water system for a Source Water Assessment update/modification.
GIS resources generated and maintained by the Oregon DEQ during the Source Water Assessments are also used to review monitoring reduction requests from Community Water Systems that are submitted to OHA. Community Water Systems may request a "Wellfield Determination" to identify the Entry Point most susceptible to contamination for representative sampling of VOCs and SOCs provided; their sources are on separate Entry Points, are close together, and draw water from the same aquifer. A Community Water System may also request a SOC Use Waiver which involves documenting SOCs used within the identified Drinking Water Source Area as per current land use practices, potential contaminant sources identified during the Source Water Assessment, water quality sampling results, and reported chemical use within the local County. During the current reporting period, OHA staff reviewed 10 requests for Wellfield Determinations. There were no requests for SOC Use Waivers during the current reporting period.
OHA continues to make use of SWA database to implement the Groundwater Rule in Oregon. In December 2009, OHA opted to utilize the hydrogeologic sensitivity assessments generated as a result of the SWAs to identify groundwater sources that should conduct 12 months of source assessment monitoring as a result of susceptibility to viral contamination. During the current reporting period, OHA developed an automated sample tracking/result system and began issuing violations to public water systems that did not collect required monthly assessment monitoring samples. As a result of the automated system, compliance with monthly sampling results has increased, monthly sampling results are quickly evaluated, and monthly monitoring schedules are quickly closed out once monitoring requirements have been met.
To date, 275 groundwater sources have been identified as susceptible to viral contamination and completed required monthly assessment monitoring. Of those, 23 have been confirmed as virally contaminated. OHA staff reviewed/updated SWA data for each of the contaminated sources and made recommendations for either permanent installation of 4-log inactivation/disinfection or reconstruction of the source. If the aquifer was the primary pathway for contamination, 4-log inactivation/disinfection was recommended. However, source reconstruction was recommended if inadequate source construction was the primary pathway for contamination. OHA and DEQ staff work collaboratively to identify source water protection tools for those water systems where 4-log inactivation/disinfection is installed as a permanent solution.
Coordination With Rural Nonprofit Organizations
National Rural Water Association (NRWA)
OHA and DEQ coordinate work with the state NRWA affiliate (Oregon
Association of Water Utilities) through monthly coordination
meetings, providing comments on workplans, providing technical
assistance, speaking at conferences/workshops, and receiving annual
updates of their progress in the area of Source Water Protection.
Much of their Source Water Protection work since 2006 is reflected
in our reported numbers to date. Our database indicates that they
have provided Source Water Protection assistance to 12 community
water systems classified as substantially implemented and 38
community water systems classified as initially implemented. Our
database also indicates that they have provided Source Water
Protection assistance to 7 non-transient non-community water systems
classified as substantially implemented and 10 non-transient
non-community water systems classified as initially implemented.
Assistance to Smaller Non-Community Water Systems (schools, campgrounds, work sites)
OHA and DEQ continue to work with non-transient non-community water systems, to achieve substantial implementation status. Furthermore, OHA believes schools comprise a sensitive population and thus it is an important investment in public health to include them as priority water systems for implementation assistance. In addition, we include on the priority list about 30 to 40 small schools that fall below the formal definition of a public water system. As of June 2012, a total of 29 non-community water systems have "substantially implemented" a strategy to protect their drinking water.
OHA continues to work toward completing Source Water Assessments for those Transient Non-Community water systems that remain on the 1999 "to do" list and the 30 to 40 small schools. During the previous reporting period (2010 to 2011) we noted that 67 of these water systems had their Drinking Water Source Areas delineated, sensitivity analysis completed, and potential contaminant source inventory conducted. We anticipate the release of more reports for these small systems during the next reporting period.
State Revolving Fund Grants
Oregon DEQ and OHA continued to promote the use of the Drinking Water Protection Fund for drinking water source protection grants and loans. During the 2011 to 2012 reporting period, water systems submitted 10 Letters of Interest (LOI) for drinking water source protection projects. Two LOI for surface water systems were reviewed and scored by DEQ and eight LOI for groundwater systems were reviewed and scored by OHA. Final project rankings were compiled once scoring was completed by each agency and recommendations for projects to be funded were passed on to Oregon Business Development Department (OBDD) in November of 2011 for final paperwork and release of funds. A total of 7 drinking water protection projects were recommended to OBDD with funding awards totaling $207,455.
Trainings and Workshops
For more information about DEQ's Drinking Water Protection Program please see the Staff Contacts and Resources.