Skip to Content

Gov. Kotek outlines coordinated response to groundwater contamination in Lower Umatilla Basin

State of Oregon

SALEM, Ore. (KTVZ) – In response to an ongoing groundwater contamination in the Lower Umatilla Basin, Gov. Tina Kotek reiterated her commitment Friday to coordinating an inter-agency response that includes testing and treatment of affected wells, pursuing a contract with a local community-based organization to engage in this effort, and dedicating a project manager to support safe drinking water.

“Every Oregonian should have safe, healthy drinking water. The water contamination experienced in Morrow and Umatilla counties is unacceptable and must be fixed,” Kotek said in a news release, which continues in full below:

“Residents need to be aware of the danger posed by nitrates and have immediate access to well testing and clean drinking water while we work towards longer-term solutions.” 

This week, members of the Governor’s Office were in Morrow and Umatilla counties touring impacted residential sites and meeting with community leaders, local elected leaders and public health officials in advance of the Governor visiting Umatilla and Morrow counties in the coming weeks.

Since January, the Governor’s Office has been meeting with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Oregon Health Authority (OHA), Oregon Department of Human Services (ODHS), the Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ), the Oregon Department of Agriculture (ODA), as well as engaging community leaders to build a plan and team that will accelerate free testing of domestic wells.

At the direction of Governor Kotek, a dedicated project manager from OHA has been identified to lead this inter-agency work. A public education and outreach campaign will ensure that every domestic well owner in the Lower Umatilla Basin Groundwater Management Area has information on the impact of high nitrates in drinking water.

In addition to free water testing, households whose water tests high for nitrates will receive delivered water and, where effective, in-home filtration systems, while longer-term solutions are being developed.

The Governor’s Office is also pursuing a contract with a local community-based organization to support the outreach, engagement, and delivery of water testing and treatment in impacted communities. There will be additional outreach to other community-based organizations to engage in that work.

Governor Kotek is committed to working with the EPA, DEQ, ODA, and community members to address the long-term remediation needs of the groundwater aquifer.

“I want residents who have been impacted by this water contamination to know that we are working with urgency to deliver solutions,” Governor Kotek said. “The state’s coordinated response must meet the needs of the families on the ground. In addition to my staff’s hard work over the past several months, I look forward to personally meeting with community members in Umatilla and Morrow counties in the weeks ahead.”

Residents of the affected region can access testing by visiting the OHA Lower Umatilla Basin Groundwater Management Area Testing and Treatment webpage or contacting their county public health department.

Article Topic Follows: Oregon-Northwest

Jump to comments ↓

KTVZ news sources


KTVZ NewsChannel 21 is committed to providing a forum for civil and constructive conversation.

Please keep your comments respectful and relevant. You can review our Community Guidelines by clicking here

If you would like to share a story idea, please submit it here.

Skip to content