Oil sheen contained in Talbert Channel near site of last year’s major O.C. pipeline spill on July 12, 2011, after the pipeline ruptured and caused a 20,000 acre oil slick on the North Fork of the Clinch River (Photo: Oregon Coast Council, via Wikimedia Commons)
There are many reasons why Oregonians should be concerned about what’s in our water and air.
We’re not just talking about the obvious hazards of our air, including radon and arsenic air pollution and the serious threats of ozone and fine particulates.
Although we don’t recognize these pollutants as dangerous, they exist in our drinking water and can have serious impacts on our health, in addition to the danger we face from radon.
We’re also talking about our drinking and recreational waters.
Some of us want our water clear.
Others do not.
In Oregon, we’re used to relying on the local water districts to clear our rivers and streams of trash, chemicals and other pollutants.
We’re used to their clear guidelines.
But some folks believe that the state and local water boards should have the power to do more.
This past year, we saw the State of Oregon attempt a “dragnet” of cleanups of our rivers, to include not just our waterways, but our open rivers for camping and fishing.
It didn’t turn out so well.
In fact, we saw a few of these dragnet cleanups, but the majority of them were not quite so successful.
Last month, the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) proposed new rules that would give local water agencies the right to force filers who don’t have permits, or who don’t have permits to follow the law.
This means that these filers would become accountable and responsible for the pollutants in our water, even though they don’t have a permit to be there.
The filers who are not regulated by DEQ would have another option.