Protecting Oregon's Environment
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Oregon Department of Environmental Quality

Water Quality

Groundwater Protection

Groundwater Home
Oregon's Groundwater Protection Program
Groundwater Management Areas
Rules and Regulations
Groundwater Information Finder
Documents and Publications

 WQ Info Guides:
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Rules and Regulations

Groundwater protection in Oregon occurs at the federal, state and local level through various agencies. Oregon administers many groundwater-related Federal programs including the Clean Water Act; Safe Drinking Water Act; Resource Conservation and Recovery Act; Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act; and Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act.

In addition to these federal laws, Oregon has its own laws and regulations relating to groundwater protection. Similarly, local governments may regulate groundwater through local ordinances in addition to assisting state and federal agencies in enforcing groundwater regulations. Groundwater protection can also occur through non-regulatory means such as education, voluntary programs, and local groups.

DEQ Water Quality Division (see also Oregon's Groundwater Protection Program)
DEQ Land Quality Division
Oregon Water Resources Department (WRD)
Oregon Department of Human Services Drinking Water Program (DHS-DWP)
Oregon Department of Agriculture (ODA)

Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)

Federal Water Pollution Control Act (Clean Water Act)

  • Enacted in 1948, amended in 1972 and 1987.
  • Before 1987, most attention was given to surface water quality.
  • 1987 amendment placed more emphasis on groundwater quality.
  • Provided for the regulation and permitting of discharges of pollutants into the waters of the United States.
  • Provided the authority to implement wastewater standards for industry and water quality standards for contaminants in surface water.
  • 1987 amendments authorized the State Water Pollution Control Revolving Fund, more commonly known as the Clean Water State Revolving Fund (CWSRF).

Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA)

  • Enacted in 1974, amended in 1986.
  • Authorizes EPA to develop regulations, set national drinking water quality standards, and develop programs to protect public water supplies.
  • Authorizes the regulation of Underground Injection Control wells, development and oversight of the Source Water Protection program (including Wellhead Protection), and designation of Sole Source Aquifers.

The Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA)

  • Enacted in 1976, amended in 1984.
  • Regulates the handling, transport and disposal of solid and hazardous wastes, and underground storage tanks.
  • Defines solid and hazardous wastes; authorizes the setting of standards for hazardous waste facilities. Established a permit program for solid and hazardous waste disposal.
  • Focuses on active and future facilities; does not address abandoned or historical sites.
  • Subtitle C covers the regulation of hazardous wastes.
  • Subtitle D regulates municipal solid waste landfills and all other nonhazardous wastes not covered in Subtitle C (such as sewage sludge and surface impoundments).
    Subtitle I regulates underground storage tanks and provides for response to leaking tanks.

The Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA or Superfund)

  • Enacted in 1980
  • The Superfund Amendments and Reauthorization Act (SARA) amended CERCLA in 1986.
  • CERCLA created a tax on the chemical and petroleum industries and provided broad Federal authority to respond directly to releases or threatened releases of hazardous substances that pose threats to public health or the environment.

The Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA)

  • Enacted in 1947, amended in 1972, 1988, and 1996
  • Authorizes EPA to control the sale, distribution and use of pesticides.
  • Does not specifically mention groundwater, but it does require that pesticides be tested for effectiveness and toxicity, be registered, and be labeled for appropriate use.
  • Applicators of restricted-use pesticides are required to be "certified" through a training and testing program.
  • Contains provisions allowing control of the transportation and disposal of pesticides.
United States Department of Agriculture (USDA)
  • Has agricultural programs which include prevention of groundwater contamination.
  • USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) in partnership with local Conservation Districts are involved in many groundwater protection activities including:
    • Providing technical assistance and educational materials related to State Pesticide Management Plans.
    • Providing site information, evaluation, technical specifications and planning assistance for Best Management Practices (BMPs) for agricultural activities.
    • NRCS has developed county-based soil surveys that rank soil for groundwater contamination vulnerability.
United States Geological Survey (USGS)
  • Nation's largest earth science research and information agency that provides geologic, topographic and hydrologic information including maps, databases, and descriptions of the earth's resources.
  • Groundwater research is concerned primarily with the characterization of groundwater quantity and groundwater quality.
  • Disseminates information on groundwater aquifers, water availability and use, potential sources of groundwater contamination and other related topics.


[print version]

For more information about DEQ's Groundwater Program contact Rick Hill (Eastern Region) 541-278-4625 or 800-304-3513; Northwest Region 503-229-5263; Bill Mason (Western Region) 541-687-7427.

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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