State of the Beach/State Reports/OR/Water Quality
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- 1 Water Quality Monitoring Program
- 2 Water Quality Contacts
- 3 Beach Closures
- 4 Storm Drains and Sewage Outfalls
- 5 Water Quality Contact (Runoff and Outfalls)
- 6 Perception of Causes
- 7 Public Education
- 8 General Reference Documents
- 9 Footnotes
Water Quality Monitoring Program
The Beaches Environmental Assessment and Coastal Health Act (BEACH Act) signed into law on October 10, 2000, amends the federal Clean Water Act (CWA), incorporating provisions intended to reduce the risk of illness to users of the Nation's recreational waters. The BEACH Act authorizes the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to award program development and implementation grants to eligible States, Territories, Tribes, and local governments to support microbiological testing and monitoring of coastal recreation waters, including the Great Lakes, that are adjacent to beaches or similar points of access used by the public. BEACH Act grants also provide support for development and implementation of programs to notify the public of the potential exposure to disease-causing microorganisms in coastal recreation waters. EPA encourages coastal States and Territories to apply for BEACH Act Grants for Program Implementation (referred to as Implementation Grants) to implement effective and comprehensive coastal recreation water monitoring and public notification programs. CWA section 406(i) authorizes appropriations of up to $30 million per year to develop and implement beach programs. Unfortunately, only about one-third that amount has been authorized each year since the program's inception. In recent years, the total funding available for BEACH Act grants has been about $9.5 million. Funding beyond 2012 has been in jeopardy, since EPA's budget requests for this program in FY2013 and FY2014 were ZERO (money for testing in 2013 and 2014 was ultimately allocated as part of Continuing Resolutions to resolve the Federal Budget impasse) and there was also no money for beach testing in the FY2015 budget. Again, it was restored at the last minute as part of a Continuing Resolution. It is very discouraging to have to fight for this basic funding to protect the public's health at the beach every year. Thankfully, there is a growing movement to provide stable funding. Unfortunately, in 2017 the situation is even more dire. If available, funds are allocated to the states and territories based on a formula which uses three factors that are readily available and verifiable: (1) Length of beach season, (2) miles of beach and (3) number of people that use the beaches. Oregon was eligible for a $218,000 grant in fiscal year 2016. The federal grants fully fund the Oregon beach monitoring and notification program.
Some of the following information came from NRDC's Testing the Waters report, which was released in June 2014 and/or in prior NRDC reports. NRDC's report evaluates beach monitoring data relative to EPA's recommended Beach Action Value (BAV). The BAV is a more protective threshold than the national allowable bacteria levels used in previous years to trigger beach advisories. The EPA considers the BAV to be a "conservative, precautionary tool for making beach notification decisions."
NRDC ranked Oregon 18th in Beachwater Quality (out of 30 states). 12% of samples exceeded EPA's new BAV standards for designated beach areas in 2013.
Oregon has beaches lining 197 miles of Pacific Ocean coastline. The state's beach water quality monitoring program is administered by the Oregon Health Authority (OHA), which monitors beaches with historically higher bacteria levels and recreational use during the peak season, from Memorial Day to Labor Day. Oregon beachgoers can learn about beach advisories on the OHA website.
Water Quality Challenges and Improvements
The Ecola Court stormwater outfall, which flows in a stream across Cannon Beach in Clatsop County before emptying into the ocean, has a history of elevated fecal indicator bacteria levels. This is a popular location for children to play, and many adults use the outfall to wash sand off their feet when they leave the beach. The city of Cannon Beach works with the Oregon Beach Monitoring Program to test for enterococcus weekly. The city has also taken steps to better warn the public about the potential health effects of contacting the water in the outfall, such as posting the weekly test results online.
Sampling Practices: OHA, together with the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ), determines sampling practices, locations, standards, and notification protocols and practices throughout the state. Samples are collected and processed by a DEQ employee who travels the coastline in a mobile lab. Samples are collected at ankle to knee depth in the middle of typical bathing areas.
The Oregon Beach Monitoring Program monitors beaches with historically higher bacterial levels and recreational use during the peak season from Memorial Day to Labor Day. In alternate years at the beginning of the peak season, OHA evaluates beaches and sample locations to determine whether they will be monitored that season and the next; this ensures that high-priority beaches will be monitored. This reevaluation occurred prior to the 2012 summer season. To determine which beaches receive high priority for monitoring, the program evaluates the number of people recreating in the water, previous water quality data, proximity to known and suspected pollution sources, and public comments received on a draft list.
Water samples are taken near known or potential pollution sources. For example, Oregon samples freshwater inputs (creeks that flow across the beach) at many of its beaches, and these inputs are in many cases more likely to exceed water quality standards than the beachwater itself. There are typically three beachwater sampling stations per beach in addition to creek sampling stations, if any. Additional marine samples are collected within 72 hours, of a monitored beachwater exceedence to ensure the exceedence is not an anomaly. The program also conducts follow-up monitoring after known sewage spills and major pollution events. States that monitor more frequently after exceedances are found and after pollution events tend to have higher percent exceedance rates and lower total closing/advisory days than if sampling frequency did not increase.
Standards and Procedures: In Oregon, the public is guaranteed free and uninterrupted use of all beaches along the coastline; therefore, beach advisories are issued but closings are not. Oregon uses a single-sample maximum enterococcus standard of 158 cfu/100 ml for beach advisory decisions in marine waters. This standard corresponds to the EPA’s standard for moderate full-body-contact recreation but is less strict than the agency’s designated beach area standard of 104 cfu/100 ml. The geometric mean of sampling results is calculated for tracking trends only, not for issuing advisories.
The state does not have preemptive standards for rainfall but does issue preemptive advisories after a known sewage spill or major pollution event where the potential exists for bacteria indicator levels to exceed the state standard.
Oregon beachgoers are notified when state water quality standards are exceeded through a 24-hour beach advisory hotline information posted online and through targeted emails and GovDelivery notifications. Additionally, press releases are sent to the media.
NOTE: New Recreational Water Quality Criteria issued by the USEPA in November 2012 no longer supports different allowable bacteria densities for waters with different use levels. There will only be one set of standards for all recreational waters. Read this article from Surfrider Oregon regarding implementation of the new standards.
Oregon's Beach Monitoring Program (OBMP) began on a limited scale in October 2002. The program commenced on a larger scale in June 2003 and was conducted throughout the remainder of the year. Oregon's Department of Human Services, Environmental Health Division operates the program. The program is run by the Department of Environmental Toxicology Section Beach Monitoring Program and The Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ). The website that describes the program, the beaches tested, and the testing results has recently been updated.
Here is a list of beaches that are currently monitored.
Beach water quality monitoring results (and much more coastline information) are also obtainable through the Oregon Coastal Atlas website (see the Tools tab).
The environmental organization Heal the Bay (HTB), which is headquartered in the Los Angeles, California area, has now expanded their Beach Report Card to cover beaches in Oregon. HTB has developed an algorithm which converts numerical bacterial indicator monitoring results into a letter grade (A to F).
Surfrider Foundation's Oregon chapters, as part of the Blue Water Task Force program monitors several beaches every month for enterococcus bacteria. The testing results can be found here (click on the eight Oregon locations under "Water Testing Labs"). The Surfrider testing program has been expanded and modified to supplement the state program. Read more.
The EPA has information on water quality in Oregon (inland waterways), including a link to Oregon's water quality assessment reports.
The United States Geological Survey (USGS) maintains a website, Water Resources of Oregon. This site is a valuable source of information including current projects, online reports, publications, maps, real-time water conditions, and educational outreach material for teachers and students.
National Ocean Service/National Center for Coastal Ocean Science (NCCOS) has carried out many water quality research projects in Oregon.
Water Quality Contacts
Oregon Beach Monitoring Program
Beach and Harmful Algae Blooms
Office of Environmental Public Health
Oregon Health Authority
800 NE Oregon St. Ste. 640
Portland, OR 97232
Program Manager: Curtis Cude
Program Coordinator: Rebecca Hillwig
Research Analyst: David Dreher
Additional Oregon Water Quality Contacts:
Oregon Department of Environmental Quality
Laboratory and Environmental Assessment Division
3150 NW 229th, Suite #150
Hillsboro, Oregon 97124
Phone: (503) 693-5726
Lead Laboratory Division Administrator
3150 NW 229th, Suite #150
Hillsboro, Oregon 97124
Phone: (503) 693-5705
Toxicology Program Specialist
Oregon Department of Human Services
Office of Public Health Systems
Portland State Office Building
800 NE Oregon St. Suite 608
Portland, OR 97232
Phone: (503) 872-6765
Here is a list of current advisories.
Beach Closure Data
In May 2016 the environmental organization Heal the Bay released their 2015-2016 Beach Report Card. This report has been prepared for several years to cover beaches in California and in recent years has been expanded to cover beaches in Oregon and Washington. Following are excerpts from the text of Heal the Bay's report for Oregon:
Oregon’s Department of Human Services and Department of Environmental Quality collectively monitored 42 locations throughout the state from May 18th 2015 through September 1st 2015. Unlike California, which uses three indicator bacteria for its monitoring programs, Oregon monitors water quality using only the indicator bacteria Enterococcus. Oregon’s program is funded entirely from the federal Beaches Environmental Assessment and Coastal Health Act (BEACH Act).
Sadly, the Oregon Beach Monitoring Program (OBMP) reduced their sampling frequency last summer due to resource constraints. Because of the minimal number of samples—monitored beaches sampled at least 75% of the season—taken by OBMP, none of the Oregon beach locations qualified to receive a grade in this report. The monitoring that occurred varied from one beach area to the next. For example, Curry County (Mill Beach, North Harris, and Hubbard) and Coos County (Sunset Bay and Bastendorff) were monitored once in July and August—two total samples for the entire swimming season. Compare those counties to Lincoln County (D River), Tillamook County (Rockaway, Short Sand, and Twin Rocks), and Clatsop County (Seaside, Cannon, and Tolovana), which were monitored once a month starting in May or bi-weekly starting in June—on average five total samples. For those swimming at Tolovana Beach on the north side of Chisana Creek in June 2015, water quality was exceptionally poor. Finally, there were three beach areas in Lincoln County that came close to meeting the 75% threshold. They were: Nye Beach, Agate Beach, and Seal Rock. All beach areas were monitored biweekly for the entire season—for an average of 10 samples.
If funding constraints for the OBMP continue in 2016, we encourage the public agencies to refine their monitoring program, and consider consolidating their culture-based sampling to the highest use or more popular beaches, and increase the sampling frequency to weekly.
There were no reported sewage spills in Oregon that led to beach closures this past year.
In 2013, Oregon reported 94 coastal beaches, 16 of which were monitored. Of all reported beach monitoring samples, 12% exceeded the Beach Action Value (BAV) of 60 enterococcus bacteria colony forming units (cfu) per 100 ml marine or estuarine water in a single sample. NRDC considers all reported samples individually (without averaging) when calculating the percent exceedance rates in this analysis. This includes duplicate samples and reported samples taken outside the official beach season, if any.
The beaches with the highest percent exceedance rates of the BAV in 2013 were Sunset Bay State Park Beach in Coos County (35%), Harris Beach State Park in Curry County (25%), Short Sand Beach in Tillamook County (18%), Hubbard Creek Beach in Curry County (16%), and Cannon Beach in Clatsop County (12%).
Storm Drains and Sewage Outfalls
No information was found on the location or number of storm drains in Oregon, although the surveys conducted to help build the Coastal Atlas included locating storm drain outfalls. Data concerning the location of storm drain outlets is reportedly stored at the Oregon Parks and Recreation Department office in Newport, Oregon.
Storm drain outlets are not permanently posted for water quality impairment.
Oregon does have sewage treatment plant outfalls which discharge into the ocean. Information on these outfalls can be obtained through DEQ and the local government agency where the treatment plant is located. Following is a table showing the sewage treatment plants on the Oregon coast.
Sewage Treatment Plants (STP) on the Oregon Coast
|STP Name||Facility ID||Hydrocode River Mile||Permit Type|
|Arch Cape||3300/A||11C-ARCH 0.5||Minor|
|Coos Bay 1||19802/A||14A*COOS 0||Major|
|Coos Bay 2||19821/A||14A*COOS 0||Major|
|Cannon Beach||13729/A||11C-ELK 0||Minor|
|Nehalem Bay||61787/A||11D-NEHA 2||Minor|
|Pacific City||66100/A||11E-NEST 4||Minor|
|Gold Beach 1||109728/A||15=-ROGU 5||GEN02|
|Gold Beach 2||109728/A||15=-ROGU 5||WPCF-OS|
|Lincoln City||50677/A||12A-SCHO 0.8||Major|
|Port Orford-Langlois||66310/A||14C-SIXE 3.2||Minor|
|Bay City||6667/A||11E*TILL 0||Minor|
|Winchester Bay||98090/A||13C-UMPQ 1.2||Minor|
|Twin Rocks||90578/A||11E-WATS 0.2||Minor|
|Brookings 1||11297/A||10=*PACI 460||Major-Gen-D|
|Brookings 1||11297/A||10=*PACI 460||Major|
|Depoe Bay||24095/A||10=*PACI 175.6||Minor|
|H2O & S||41740/jD||10=*PACI 179||Minor|
|Rainbow Rock||90480/A||10=*PACI 419.7||Minor|
In addition, there are industrial facilities that discharge wastewater to the ocean, including Georgia-Pacific's Toledo pulp and paper mill that discharges to the Yaquina River and the ocean under a National Pollution Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit.
State coastal management staff considers outdated or undersized treatment facilities and combined sewer overflows to be the greatest regional threats to coastal water quality.
In November 2005 the City of Portland was fined nearly $450,000 for sewage discharges into the Willamette River and its tributaries and the Columbia River and Columbia Slough. Oregon DEQ says raw sewage flowed into waterways 67 times between March 2001 and November 2005. The discharges totaled about 1,875,000 gallons. DEQ has fined the city seven times for water quality violations since 1988.
Prompted by an environmental lawsuit in 1991 and finalized by a 1994 agreement with the state, Portland's "Big Pipe" is the city's biggest city-paid construction project. The expected cost for the system of underground tunnels designed to reduce sewer overflows from Portland to the Williamete River is $1.4 billion. The East Side CSO Tunnel Project is the largest of these projects. When this project is complete in 2011, the volume of combined sewage and stormwater that now overflows to the river when it rains is predicted to be reduced by more than 94%. The sewer tunnel is 22 feet in diameter and six miles long. The tunnel route begins at 17th and SE McLoughlin and ends on Swan Island where it connects to the Confluent Shaft. The tunnel is built under SE 3rd Avenue in the Central Eastside Industrial District. The West Side CSO Tunnel is a 14-foot diameter, 3-1/2 mile long tunnel that will capture sewage and stormwater on the west side of the Willamette River. The tunnel extends from SW Clay Street to Swan Island. Completion of these projects was announced in November 2011. Based on the performance of the Big Pipe project in the first two years since completion in 2011, the project appears to be dramatically reducing the frequency of combined sewer overflows. Only six combined sewer overflows, or CSOs, have occurred, instead of an estimated 100 that would have occurred without the project.
Here's more information on Portland's stormwater and wastewater programs.
Oregon’s Nonpoint Source (NPS) Management Plan identifies the pollution management programs, strategies and resources that are currently in place or that are needed to minimize or prevent nonpoint source pollution effects. The Oregon Department of Environmental Quality has the responsibility of overseeing and implementing the State’s NPS Management Program by coordinating with many local, State and federal agencies and organizations throughout the State of Oregon. Annual Reports from 2000 through 2015 are available.
In December 2013 U.S. EPA and NOAA issued a proposed determination that the State of Oregon had failed to submit an approvable Coastal Nonpoint Pollution Control Program as required by Section 6217(a) of the Coastal Zone Act Reauthorization Amendments of 1990 (CZARA), 16U.S.C. 1455b. NOAA and EPA arrived at this proposed decision because the federal agencies found that the State has not fully satisfied all conditions placed on the State’s Coastal Nonpoint Program. Specifically, the federal agencies maintained that Oregon had not fully satisfied several conditions related to new development, onsite sewage disposal systems (OSDS), and additional management measures for forestry. This determination was finalized in January 2015, with the primary stated reason being that the program does not sufficiently protect salmon streams and landslide-prone areas from logging impacts or reduce runoff from forest roads built before 1971. “Both NOAA and EPA are optimistic that Oregon will take the necessary steps to address the gaps in their forestry practices,” said Dennis McLerran, EPA’s regional administrator. “Oregon has already shown that it wants to make improvements by undertaking a rulemaking process aimed at improving fish-bearing stream protections. We support the state in adopting protective new rules as well as other steps to address remaining gaps. We are committed to helping the state get to an approvable coastal nonpoint pollution control program.”
Oregon has developed a Water Model Quality Code and Guidebook. It is the result of a collaborative effort between the Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) and the Department of Land Conservation and Development (DLCD). The document was prepared to assist cities and counties interested in reducing impacts on water quality from urban development activities. The ordinances address urban non-point pollutant sources, which have been identified by the Environmental Protection Agency and the National Marine Fisheries Service as having the potential to degrade surface water, ground water, and/or aquatic habitat. The model code and guidance also addresses water quality issues related to flood mitigation under the National Flood Management Act.
Additional information on storm water management planning can also be found on the DEQ Water Quality website.
To facilitate and promote incorporation of low-impact development (LID) practices into new development and help address the urban management measures for new and site development, Oregon's Coastal Nonpoint Program, in partnership with Oregon SeaGrant, developed a new Program entitled "Show off your Runoff." Show off Your Runoff is a component of a larger program, Rainstorming, a technical assistance program that supports local governments in their efforts to adopt storm water management standards. The "Show off Your Runoff" program targeted to the Rogue River Valley, and Oregon's south and north coasts, promotes LID demonstration projects in areas where little is known about low impact storm water designs. Local governments, property owners or developers can apply to the Show off Your Runoff Program for assistance with a planned development. The Show off Your Runoff Program then provides design and engineering assistance to develop alternative storm water management options for the proposed development.
In the Program's first year, they assisted two developments. Both projects were very receptive to the recommendations and design suggestions they received. One project is underdevelopment now and is incorporating the LID design elements into the development. The other project is scheduled for development in late winter/spring and also plans to implement the recommendations they received from the Program. Recommendations included incorporating water quality treatment swales and rain gardens, using native vegetation, reducing impervious surfaces, using previous paving, and ensuring that detention and infiltration structures are designed to adequately infiltrate and treat runoff. In addition to providing direct assistance for individual projects, the Storm Water Quick Response Program also plans to use the projects they fund to educate the local development community and public about practical, attractive approaches to storm water management.
The Oregon Department of Environmental Quality, in collaboration with the Oregon Department of Agriculture, Oregon Department of Forestry, Department of Fish and Wildlife, Water Resources Department and Oregon Watershed Enhancement Board, formed a Statewide TMDL Policy Committee to obtain stakeholder input on policy matters related to the development and implementation of TMDLs and on water quality standards issues related to TMDLs.
TMDLs are plans that calculate the maximum amount of a pollutant that a waterbody can receive and still meet water quality standards. When TMDLs are implemented it is expected that the waterbody would achieve water quality standards due to reduction of pollutant loads from sources derived from human activities. The agencies will use the committee’s input to help shape policies and set priorities for their TMDL work, especially pertaining to implementation-ready TMDLs.
Integrated Water Quality Reports
Every two years, DEQ is required to assess water quality and report to EPA on the condition of Oregon's waters. DEQ prepares an Integrated Report that meets the requirements of the federal Clean Water Act (CWA) for Section 305(b) and Section 303(d).
- CWA Section 305(b) requires a report on the overall condition of Oregon's waters.
- CWA Section 303(d) requires identifying waters that do not meet water quality standards and where a Total Maximum Daily Load pollutant load limit needs to be developed.
The Integrated Report includes an assessment of each water body where data are available, and the list of waters identified under Section 303(d) as water quality limited and needing a TMDL.
You can find the most recent and past Integrated Reports as well as the 303(d) List of impaired waters and additional information on this website.
Integrated Water Resources Strategy
The Oregon Water Resources Commission adopted the state's first Integrated Water Resources Strategy on August 2, 2012. The Strategy provides a blueprint to help the state better understand and meet its instream and out-of-stream needs, taking into account water quantity, water quality, and ecosystem needs.
Water Quality Contact (Runoff and Outfalls)
800 NE Oregon St # 18, Suite 1145
Portland, OR 97232
Phone: (503) 731-4065, x32
Perception of Causes
Although causes of beach closures and health advisories have yet not been determined, OOCMP staff believes that non-point source pollution is the greatest regional threat to coastal water quality. Additional causes are believed to include outdated or undersized treatment facilities, Combined Sewer Overflows (CSO) and Pulp Mill effluent (in certain areas). They believe that there is a strong correlation between heavy rainfall events and high bacteria readings leading to health advisory postings at the beach.
Samples from the ocean off Mill Beach and Harris Park State Beach have been taken daily since 2005 by a research team headed by Frank Burris, an Oregon State University Extension faculty member based in Gold Beach. Steve Dicicco, beach technician for Oregon State University Extension, has also conducted tests along with Burris. Their work indicates that failing septic tanks and the feces of household pets are the primary suspects linked to unhealthy bacteria that continues to plague several Brookings creeks and beaches.
Beachgoers at Sunset Bay State Park near Coos Bay have seen signs warning of bacterial contamination in the water in recent years. In response, the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) is working with researchers from the South Slough National Estuarine Research Reserve and Oregon State University to determine where it comes from and how long it lasts. Part of the federally funded project began in February 2007 when marine biologist Steven Rumrill and research assistant Ben Grupe placed a device in Big Creek to measure the amount of fresh water that enters the bay from the creek and to monitor its salinity, temperature, acidity and conductivity. Grupe said it's the first step to understanding potential factors behind the contamination. The device will track flow and water quality during a variety of weather conditions. The two researchers have several ideas about the cause, including feces from sea gulls and sea lions on the beach, or from elk living along the Big Creek or from homes near Lighthouse Beach.
Harmful algal blooms were a problem off the Oregon coast in 2004-2005, as they were in the Northeast (Cape Cod to the Gulf of Maine), along the west coast of Florida, and in southern California. Following are excerpts from an article on this subject that appeared in the Statesman Journal on October 3, 2005:
Researchers at Oregon State University and the University of Oregon [have] issued a news release saying that algae blooms and the resulting toxins appear to be on the rise. And the likely causes, the scientists said, are global climate change and increased human impact on the coast.
One recent bloom significantly elevated levels of a toxin called domoic acid in Oregon razor clams that prompted a summerlong ban. And that followed several other regional closures during the past two to three years.
People who eat shellfish with high levels of domoic acid may suffer vomiting, diarrhea, disorientation and memory loss. In severe cases, domoic acid can result in comas and even death.
Two Oregon scientists -- one from Oregon State University and the other from the University of Oregon -- are trying to identify the toxic blooms as they occur by combining satellite imagery and sampling information in a project paid for by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. They believe that certain areas, including the Heceta Bank off the central Oregon coast, may act as "incubators" for blooms of Pseudonitzschia, a phytoplankton species that can turn toxic, creating domoic acid. When consumed by shellfish, it accumulates in their tissues.
"Historically, the first warning sign we get for these toxic blooms is when domoic acid shows up during routine testing of razor clams and other shellfish -- and by then it's a done deal," said Peter Strutton, an assistant professor at Oregon State's College of Oceanic and Atmospheric Sciences. "Unlike the phytoplankton species that causes red tides off Florida, the blooms off Oregon don't have characteristic pigment that makes them easily visible.
A number of different phytoplankton species bloom regularly off the Pacific Northwest coast and, in fact, are important in fueling the marine food chain, he said. But a breakdown in the metabolic process of Pseudonitzschia creates domoic acid, according to Michelle Wood, a professor of biology at the University of Oregon.
The researchers are comparing recorded levels of toxicity in razor clams, mussels and other shellfish with archival satellite data showing sea surface temperatures and "ocean color" -- chlorophyll levels and rates of fluorescence -- in the same regions that the shellfish testing took place.
One area of interest is the Heceta Bank, which bulges out off the Oregon Coast.
"Harmful algal blooms are the negative side of coastal upwelling," Strutton said. "There is growing evidence that these blooms have been increasing over the last 20 years and not only are becoming more frequent, but more intense and with longer duration.
"We also are starting to record toxic events in places that haven't had them, so there is a concern that they may be spreading. The spreading could be caused by the transport of phytoplankton in the ballast water of ships."
Strutton said global climate change leading to warmer ocean waters is one theory behind the increasing incidents of harmful algal blooms.
In July 2006 it was announced that a hypoxic "dead zone" had formed off the Oregon Coast for the fifth time in five years, according to researchers at Oregon State University. A fundamental new trend in atmospheric and ocean circulation patterns in the Pacific Northwest appears to have begun and apparently is expanding its scope beyond Oregon waters. The effect of the low-oxygen zone has also been seen in coastal waters off Washington.
There have been reports of dead crabs stretching from the central Oregon coast to the central Washington coast. Some dissolved oxygen levels at 180 feet have recently been measured as low as 0.55 milliliters per liter, and areas as shallow as 45 feet have been measured at 1 milliliter per liter. These oxygen levels are several times lower than normal, and any dissolved oxygen level below 1.4 milliliters per liter is hypoxic, capable of suffocating a wide range of fish, crabs, and other marine life.
DEQ conducted an assessment of water quality in Oregon as required by the federal Clean Water Act (CWA) Section 305(b) and Section 303(d) to provide an Integrated Report on Oregon’s surface waters. Oregon’s 2010 Integrated Report was prepared in phases. The initial phase of work was completed and submitted to EPA in January 2011. A supplement to Oregon’s 2010 Integrated Report was prepared and open for public review and comment. DEQ submitted Oregon’s 2010 Integrated Report to EPA in May 2011.
Because of concerns about the release of invasive species and toxic materials that can come with dismantling old ships, two coastal lawmakers in Oregon introduced legislation that would make Oregon the first state in the nation to require shipbreaking be done in fully contained dry-docks so nothing escapes into the water. The bill was prompted by reaction to efforts by a Virginia shipbreaking company when it tried to find a site in Oregon to open the only West Coast facility to dismantle ships from the "Ghost Fleet" of deteriorating government vessels.
In 2008 Oregon's beach monitoring program participated in two Children’s Clean Water festivals to educate citizens about the Beach Program, marine water quality issues and actions people can take to protect their health and preserve marine environments. The coastal watershed model used at these festivals will continue to be used to help increase the awareness of the beach monitoring program and provide an understanding of the importance of water quality. Also in 2008, the program held its Third Annual Clean Beaches Art Contest for fourth and fifth graders. The students were asked to create an art piece that communicated how certain everyday activities can affect our oceans. In addition to these outreach activities, program staff visited city halls, visitor centers, chambers of commerce, local health departments, parks, surf shops, hotels and other businesses along the Oregon coast and provided program brochures. An annual newsletter titled Beach News is used to create awareness of new information and to keep individuals up to date on program happenings.
Additional information on Oregon's beach monitoring program can be found here.
The Water Model Quality Code and Guidebook was noted above. Information on pollution prevention for businesses is also available.
Oregon DEQ also has several publications on Waste Prevention and Reuse.
The Oregon Rain Garden Guide, produced by Oregon Sea Grant at Oregon State University, is the state’s first stormwater management resource for both novices and expert landscapers. An increasing number of Oregonians are disconnecting downspouts, building rain collection barrels and planting rain gardens to harvest water from their businesses, schools and front yards.
Also see Oregon Sea Grant's series of fact sheets on Low Impact Development and other LID information.
General Reference Documents
EPA has compiled several NPS (Nonpoint Source) Outreach Products that are a selection of television, radio, and print products on nonpoint source pollution that have been developed by various agencies and organizations around the country. They are good examples of outreach in the mass media. Also see What You Can Do.
NOAA, in partnership with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, International City/County Management Association and Rhode Island Sea Grant, has released an interagency guide that adapts smart growth principles to the unique needs of coastal and waterfront communities. Smart Growth for Coastal and Waterfront Communities builds on existing smart growth principles to offer 10 coastal and waterfront-specific guidelines that help manage development while balancing environmental, economic, and quality of life issues.
- Paul Klarin. Personal communication. November 6, 2002.
- Paul Klarin, OOCMP. Surfrider State of the Beach Survey response. November 2003
- Paul Klarin, OOCMP. Surfrider State of the Beach Survey response. November 2002.
- Paul Klarin, OOCMP. Surfrider State of the Beach Survey response. November 2003.
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