People of Northwest Public Radio
Wed December 19, 2012
Dairies Fight EPA Nitrate Study
RICHLAND, Wash. – The Washington dairy industry is fighting a report from the Environmental
Protection Agency. The report found that dairies are likely contaminating residential wells in the Lower Yakima Valley.
The Environmental Protection Agency studied 300 residential wells. Scientists found 20 percent had high nitrate levels. They named dairies as the likely source of contamination.
But dairy industry officials say the report doesn’t have any scientific backing. They note limitations that EPA researchers cited. Limitations like: not knowing the depth of every well or how wells were constructed.
Steve George is a consultant with the Washington Dairy Federation.
George: “They really didn’t get bona fide, honest-to-god, peer-reviewed data to back up the claims that they made.”
Nitrates come from manure and fertilizers. When they contaminate drinking water, nitrates can be harmful to children and some adults.
The Environmental Protection Agency has started drilling about nine monitoring wells in the Lower Yakima Valley. Officials say those will help clear up the shortcomings in the study.
Yakima Diary Farm's