In Oregon’s rivers and streams, warm water continues to be the main cause of pollution, according to the most recent, comprehensive assessment created by the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has officially accepted the so-called 2022 Integrated Report on State Water Quality, which is now the recognized official record of the state’s waterways’ present condition.
DEQ is mandated to examine the state of thousands of miles of Oregonian waterways every two years using monitoring data supplied by a wide range of individuals and groups, as well as the agency’s own observations.
The data is organized in an interactive web map that enables users to locate anything from lakes, coastal waterways, or entire watersheds to rivers and streams in small areas and learn what might be harming water quality.
Connie Dou, manager of water assessments for the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality, stated that the public’s awareness and comprehension of the state of our rivers and watersheds depend on this information. “The water in Oregon is some of the world’s most beautiful and unpolluted. However, maintaining the quality of the water for fish, drinking water, and enjoyment also presents some very real obstacles.
The DEQ water quality personnel examined 7.6 million data points from more than 3,000 monitoring stations to generate the study. They examined the temperature of the water, the presence of bacteria or other hazardous contaminants, the relative acidity, the oxygen levels, and other indicators of the health of the water.
A river segment is listed on a federal list known as the 303(d) list if it is determined that it is “impaired,” meaning that it contains too much of any of the contaminants listed above to adequately safeguard aquatic life or drinking water or to allow for safe recreational use and fish eating. There are extra environmental safeguards and cleanup programs that apply to the waters on that list.
Dou praised the report’s production by the water quality team. She said that it was the most thorough analysis of Oregon’s waters that DEQ has ever produced. It symbolizes a significant amount of staff work and careful science for the benefit of the public.
The DEQ also found that marine hypoxia, or low oxygen levels, is a potential issue in Oregon’s coastal waters, but the information and the DEQ’s existing ability to evaluate ocean conditions are insufficient to declare the water to be impaired.
A scientific technical work group has been established by DEQ to help characterize shifting ocean conditions in upcoming cycles of the Integrated Report. In collaboration with this group, DEQ intends to lay forth a suitable technique for evaluating the condition of Oregon’s territorial waters.
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