Decades of work and millions of dollars of investment by the State,
industry, and cities has reversed some of the worst damage to the
Willamette River. Cities and industries began treating wastewater in
the 1950s, and treatment has improved steadily since. Flood control
reservoirs built by the federal government have increased summer
flow, providing waste dilution during this critical period. Today
the river is cleaner and healthier than it once was for people and
fish. However, there is still much work to be done.
The Oregon Plan
is a commitment from Oregons citizens, businesses, agencies and
governments to work together to ensure our children will inherit
healthy watersheds. The Oregon Plan is people working locally;
watershed councils coordinating the work; local landowners and
governments initiating new ways of doing things; funding and
expertise from state, tribal and federal agencies, and businesses
and industries; and implementing existing laws and regulations. Most
of all, it is a spirit of volunteerism and stewardship
characteristic of Oregon and Oregonians.
Efforts to restore the watershed involve everyone in the watershed.
Actions include planting vegetation to reduce erosion and keep water
cool; changing habits at home, at work, and at play to prevent or
reduce pollutants entering waterways; improving fish passage and
opening habitat that was blocked by past practices; and reducing
erosion and sediment entering streams. For more information on how
to help, view Preventing
Surface Water Runoff.
Mercury is another key issue that people can learn more about to
reduce its impairment on the environment. DEQ is actively involved
study to reduce mercury pollution
in the Willamette.
TMDLs and Water Quality Management Plans
Oregon is required to establish Total
Maximum Daily Loads (TMDLs) for streams segments which do not
meet water quality standards. The TMDL identifies the level of
pollutants that a water body can absorb and still meet
water quality standards. TMDLs take into account pollution from
all sources, including discharges from industry and sewage treatment
facilities; runoff from farms, forests and urban areas; and natural
sources. TMDLs also include a safety margin to account for
This information is then used to determine what changes must take
place to achieve water quality standards. The TMDL will be used to
determine whether changes are needed for wastewater discharge
permits for industries and sewage treatment facilities. Water
quality management plans (WQMP) are also developed based on the
TMDLs. These plans document the ways that local landowners,
agencies, forest and agricultural land managers (including federal
agencies), DEQ and others will implement a specific TMDL and work to
improve water quality.
More information on the Willamette