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Farmers Question Oregon’s Strict New Water Standards

June 23, 2011

Last week, Oregon’s Environmental Quality Commission adopted what some say are the strictest toxic water pollution standards in the United States, according to a report published by the Oregonian.

The measure passed 4-1, with the dissenting vote cast by Jane O’Keeffe, a cattle rancher. She believes the new rules could cost farmers millions while doing little to actually improve water quality. The standards are based on the assumption that people might eat 175 grams of fish each day, 10 times the actual consumption average.
Even though farmers will be expected to reduce runoff and erosion, it’s not clear how much those measures will reduce toxic exposure to chemicals. Industry and waste water treatment facilities also could be offered exemptions if they cannot immediately meet the new standards.
The new rules must be approved by the Environmental Protection Agency, which could occur this fall or early next year. For the complete report, click here.

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