Oregon counties secure $1.7mn to address nitrate water contamination

Oregon’s Morrow and Umatilla counties are set to receive $1.7 million in federal funding, geared towards mitigating nitrate contamination in private water wells. This financial assistance is provided by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), following concerns raised by U.S. Senators Jeff Merkley and Ron Wyden.

Highlighting the urgency, Wyden commented, “Rural Oregonians in Morrow and Umatilla counties have valid concerns about their water safety. These federal funds will help ensure their taps deliver clean and safe water.”

During visits to the affected areas, Merkley witnessed the community’s distress firsthand. He recalled, “Families in Morrow County shared heart-wrenching accounts of nitrate contamination impacting their health. It’s essential that everyone has access to uncontaminated drinking water, and this investment is a step towards understanding and rectifying the situation.”

The Senators anticipate the funds will be utilized to craft enduring solutions, potentially including a thorough inventory of domestic wells and increased testing frequency.

Nitrogen-based fertilizers, used extensively by farmers in the region, have long contributed to groundwater pollution in rural Oregon. Studies from InvestigateWest reveal nitrate levels in private wells in these counties consistently measuring between 40 to 50 milligrams per liter. Prolonged exposure to levels exceeding 10 milligrams can lead to serious health complications, including cancer and the life-threatening ‘blue baby syndrome’ in infants.

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