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S. Deschutes/N. Klamath Groundwater Protection Project

DEQ, the US Geological Survey and Deschutes County have determined that the safety of the groundwater in southern Deschutes and northern Klamath counties is threatened by nitrate contamination from traditional onsite septic wastewater treatment systems. The groundwater aquifer provides the drinking water source for most residents in this area.

DEQ and a steering committee of local area residents are now working with the community to find the best way to protect the groundwater.

green envelope icon Email your questions or comments for the Steering Committee or DEQ

Current News

DEQ held a public meeting Wednesday, Dec. 4, 2013 to share with residents a possible path forward regarding the nine recommendations from the steering committee.

View the presentation shared at the meeting.

The steering committee has submitted their recommendations and report to DEQ. DEQ is reviewing the committee’s recommendations and has not yet made any decisions on how or whether to implement them. Some of the recommendations require action by agencies other than DEQ and most will require an open, public process. The planning process will occur in the near future in partnership with the public, stakeholder groups and other state and local agencies. Some members of the committee will likely continue to engage in public outreach and education about groundwater contamination in the region.

Background

Most wells tap into an aquifer within 50 feet of the ground surface. The aquifers have no natural barriers to the ground surface and are very vulnerable to contamination from the surface. Nitrate contamination of groundwater aquifers is a problem in several areas of Oregon, as can be seen from the map showing the results of testing from real estate transactions between 1989 and 2008.

The La Pine area shows a clear area of contamination. In some areas of Oregon, the contamination comes from a combination of agricultural chemicals, animal waste and septic systems. In the La Pine area, the major source of contamination is septic systems. 

The contamination comes from the discharge of nitrate from septic systems. Groundwater in the southern Deschutes and northern Klamath aquifer is becoming contaminated with the nitrate at unsafe levels. Infants and pregnant or nursing women are especially vulnerable to increased nitrate levels. High levels of nitrate may also cause other health problems.

To protect the quality of the drinking water in the aquifer, Deschutes County passed an ordinance in 2008 requiring upgrades on all septic systems; voters overturned the ordinance in a special election in March 2009. Deschutes County has asked DEQ to take the lead to resolve the issue. At a meeting in July 2009, the public raised many questions about how to best approach the issue. The questions touched on a variety of issues and depending on the questions, different agencies have responded. DEQ has compiled the questions and answers.

Public Involvement & Meetings

Steering Committee Information

DEQ assembled a steering committee of community members to discuss and make recommendations to improve groundwater protection in South Deschutes and North Klamath counties.

Public Outreach Meeting
Dec. 4, 2013 - 6:30 - 8:30 p.m.
LaPine High School Auditorium
51633 Coach Road
La Pine, OR 97739
Outreach Session
July 25, 2013 - 6:00 - 9:00 p.m.
LaPine High School Auditorium
51633 Coach Road
La Pine, OR 97739

 

Steering Committee Meeting
June 19, 2013 - 6:00 - 9:00 p.m.
Midstate Electric Community Meeting Room
16755 Finley Butte Road
La Pine, OR 97739
Steering Committee Meeting
June 4, 2013 - 6:00 - 9:00 p.m.

Midstate Electric Community Meeting Room
16755 Finley Butte Road
La Pine, OR 97739
Steering Committee Meeting
May 7, 2013 - 6:00 - 9:00 p.m.

Midstate Electric Community Meeting Room
16755 Finley Butte Road
La Pine, OR 97739
Outreach Session
April 22, 2013 - 6:30 - 8:30 p.m.

High Lakes Christian Church
52620 Day Road
La Pine, OR 97739
Steering Committee Meeting
April 2, 2013 - 6:00 p.m.

Midstate Electric Community Meeting Room
16755 Finley Butte Road
La Pine, OR 97739
Work Session - Committee Outreach
March 20, 2013 - 6:30 p.m.

Thousand Trails Clubhouse
17480 S. Century Drive
Bend, OR 97707
Steering Committee Meeting
Mar. 5, 2013 - 6:00 p.m.

Midstate Electric Community Meeting Room
16755 Finley Butte Road
La Pine, OR 97739
Work Session – Cluster Systems & Green Solutions
Feb. 28, 2013 - 6:00 p.m.

Midstate Electric Community Meeting Room
16755 Finley Butte Road
La Pine, OR 97739
Steering Committee Meeting
Feb. 5, 2013 - 6:00 p.m.

Midstate Electric Community Meeting Room
16755 Finley Butte Road
La Pine, OR 97739
Work Sessions - Community Outreach
Jan. 24, 2013 - 6:00 p.m.

Living Water of La Pine Church
52410 Primrose Lane (Just off Burgess Rd.)
La Pine, OR 97739

 

Steering Committee Meeting
Jan. 9, 2013 - 6:00 p.m.

Midstate Electric Community Meeting Room
16755 Finley Butte Road
La Pine, OR 97739
Work Session
Dec. 13, 2012 - 6:00 p.m.

Midstate Electric Community Meeting Room
16755 Finley Butte Road
La Pine, OR 97739
Steering Committee Meeting
Dec. 4, 2012 - 6:00 p.m.

Midstate Electric Community Meeting Room
16755 Finley Butte Road
La Pine, OR 97739
Work Session
Nov. 14, 2012 - 6:00 p.m.

Midstate Electric Community Meeting Room
16755 Finley Butte Road
La Pine, OR 97739
Steering Committee Meeting
Nov. 6, 2012 - 6:00 p.m.

Midstate Electric Community Meeting Room
16755 Finley Butte Road
La Pine, OR 97739
Work Session - Community Outreach
Oct. 25, 2012 - 6:30 p.m.

Deschutes River Recreation Homesites Clubhouse
17200 Milky Way (between Solar and Stellar Drives)
Steering Committee Meeting
Oct. 2, 2012 - 6 p.m.

Midstate Electric Community Meeting Room
16755 Finley Butte Road
La Pine, OR 97739
Work Session - Community Outreach
Sept. 13, 2012 - 6 p.m.

Crescent Community Club Building
Crescent Cut-Off Road
Crescent, OR

 

Steering Committee Meeting
Sept. 4, 2012 - 6 p.m.

Midstate Electric Community Meeting Room
16755 Finley Butte Road
La Pine, OR 97739
Steering Committee Work Session - 3rd Goal Exception
Aug. 30, 2012 - 2 to 4:30 p.m.

Bend DEQ Office
475 NE Bellevue Dr., Suite 110
Bend, OR 97701
Steering Committee Work Session - 2nd Goal Exception
Aug. 21, 2012 - 6 to 8 p.m.
Midstate Electric Community Meeting Room
16755 Finley Butte Rd., La Pine
Steering Committee Work Session – 1st Goal 11 Exception
Aug. 15, 2012 - 2 to 4 p.m.

Bend DEQ Office
475 NE Bellevue Dr., Suite 110
Bend, OR 97701
Steering Committee Meeting
Aug. 7, 2012 - 6 p.m.

Midstate Electric Community Meeting Room
16755 Finley Butte Road
La Pine, OR 97739
Steering Committee Meeting
July 11, 2012 - 6 p.m.

Midstate Electric Community Meeting Room
16755 Finley Butte Road
La Pine, OR 97739
Steering Committee Meeting
June 5, 2012 - 6 p.m.

Midstate Electric Community Meeting Room
16755 Finley Butte Road
La Pine, OR 97739
Steering Committee Meeting
May 1, 2012 - 6 p.m.

Midstate Electric Community Meeting Room
16755 Finley Butte Road
La Pine, OR 97739
Steering Committee Meeting
Apr. 3, 2012 - 6 p.m.

Midstate Electric Community Meeting Room
16755 Finley Butte Road
La Pine, OR 97739
Steering Committee Meeting
Mar. 6, 2012 - 6 p.m.

Midstate Electric Community Meeting Room
16755 Finley Butte Road
La Pine, OR 97739
Steering Committee Meeting
Feb. 7, 2012 - 6 p.m.

Midstate Electric Community Meeting Room
16755 Finley Butte Road
La Pine, OR 97739
Steering Committee Meeting
Jan. 9, 2012 - 6 p.m.

Midstate Electric Community Meeting Room
16755 Finley Butte Road
La Pine, OR 97739
Steering Committee Meeting
Dec. 6, 2011 - 6 p.m.

Midstate Electric Community Meeting Room
16755 Finley Butte Road
La Pine, OR 97739
Steering Committee Meeting
Nov. 1, 2011 - 6 p.m.

Midstate Electric Community Meeting Room
16755 Finley Butte Road
La Pine, OR 97739
Steering Committee Meeting
Oct. 4, 2011 - 6 p.m.

Midstate Electric Community Meeting Room
16755 Finley Butte Road
La Pine, OR 97739
Steering Committee Meeting
Sept. 13, 2011 - 6 p.m.

Midstate Electric Community Meeting Room
16755 Finley Butte Road
La Pine, OR 97739
Steering Committee Meeting
Aug. 2, 2011 - 6 p.m.

Midstate Electric Community Meeting Room
16755 Finley Butte Road
La Pine, OR 97739
Steering Committee Meeting
July 14, 2011 - 6 p.m.

Midstate Electric Community Meeting Room
16755 Finley Butte Road
La Pine, OR 97739
Steering Committee Meeting
June 15, 2011 - 6 p.m.

Midstate Electric Community Meeting Room
16755 Finley Butte Road
La Pine, OR 97739
Steering Committee Meeting
May 3, 2011 - 6 p.m.

Midstate Electric Community Meeting Room
16755 Finley Butte Road
La Pine, OR 97739
Steering Committee Meeting
Apr. 5, 2011 - 6 p.m.

Midstate Electric Community Meeting Room
16755 Finley Butte Road
La Pine, OR 97739
Steering Committee Meeting
Mar. 1, 2011 - 6 p.m.

Midstate Electric Community Meeting Room
16755 Finley Butte Road
La Pine, OR 97739
Steering Committee Meeting
Feb. 1, 2011 - 6 p.m.

Midstate Electric Community Meeting Room
16755 Finley Butte Road
La Pine, OR
Steering Committee Meeting
Jan. 4, 2011 - 6 p.m.

Midstate Electric Community Meeting Room
16755 Finley Butte Road
La Pine, OR
Steering Committee Meeting
Dec. 7, 2010 - 6 p.m.

Midstate Electric Community Meeting Room
16755 Finley Butte Road
La Pine, OR
Steering Committee Meeting
Nov. 9, 2010 - 6 p.m.

Midstate Electric Community Meeting Room
16755 Finley Butte Road
La Pine, OR
Steering Committee Meeting
Sept. 9, 2010 - 6 p.m.

La Pine Senior Activity Center
16450 Victory Way
La Pine, OR 97739

Past Public Meetings

May 6, 2010 - 6:00 PM
La Pine Senior Activity Center
16450 Victory Way
La Pine, OR 97739
February 4, 2010 - 6:00 PM
La Pine Senior Activity Center
16450 Victory Way
La Pine, OR 97739

Additional Information

Information about nitrate contamination in Oregon is available from a study by Brenda Hoppe, Oregon State University and the Department of Human Services. The slides below illustrate how nitrates can affect health, and also provide a statistical analysis of nitrate contamination across Oregon. The data used comes from real estate transactions (RET) across the state, including the La Pine area.

Other documents regarding the discussion of the issue:

 

 Image of boys at lake
Four focus areas to the groundwater protection process
(Click to enlarge)

 

[print version]

For more information on DEQ's Water Quality Division and its programs, see our contact page.

Oregon Department of Environmental Quality
Headquarters: 811 SW Sixth Ave., Portland, OR 97204-1390
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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