News Feature | January 6, 2014

Polluted Waters May Cost Oregon Federal Funding

By Sara Jerome
@sarmje

oregoncoastreg

Oregon may lose a large chunk of funding for clean water projects.

"The U.S. government surprised a lot of people [last month by] proposing that Oregon, alone among 34 coastal states, should be rejected for continued pollution-control funding because it's a laggard in controlling certain kinds of pollution along its shores," the Oregonian reported

The state may be forced to part with "about $4 million a year in federal grant money used for stream restoration and other local watershed projects because its coastal nonpoint pollution control program has continually fallen short of federal requirements," the Statesman Journal reported. 

The National Atmospheric and Oceanic Administration and the EPA are in the midst of a 90-day public comment period on whether to disapprove funding for Oregon's coastal nonpoint pollution control program. 

"The two agencies have found that Oregon’s program falls short in key areas. EPA and NOAA are required to make a final decision by May 15, 2014," the Columbia Basin Fish & Wildlife News Bulletin reported

According to the state, Oregon "is committed to gaining approval of its coastal nonpoint source pollution program." State officials argued in a backgrounder that Oregon is already in the process of addressing major issues. 

The Oregonian editorial board defended its home state. 

The idea that Oregon is the only state struggling with pollution is "a hard thought to register if you've walked along the Gulf Coast of Texas or Louisiana, swum in waters off New Jersey or, for that matter, kayaked in sullied parts of Puget Sound," the board said.

The board argued that the state's pollution levels have improved in recent years. 

"That isn't to say some mid-size and smaller streams, particularly those known not to carry fish and situated well into the Coast Range, have not been hammered by logging and other forest uses. Neither is it to say stream clarity and fish habitat haven't been fouled by silt carried by rainwater rushing away from a new construction site," the board wrote. 

Nevertheless, the defunding effort is off the mark, according to the board. 

"The proposal to ding Oregon follows more than a decade of fruitful collaboration by Oregon with both agencies and Oregon's federally confirmed adherence to 53 of the agencies' 56 'management measures' to ensure water quality," the board said. 

Oregon has also struggled recently to maintain federal funding for algae resistance. Read more on Water Online. 

Image credit: “oregon coast," © 2005 ((brian)), used under an Attribution 2.0 Generic license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

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