Yakima Dairies Agree to Reduce Nitrate Contamination

Mar 7, 2013

Four Eastern Washington dairies have agreed to reduce pollution that’s been contaminating drinking water. For EarthFix, Courtney Flatt has more.

The four Yakima Valley dairies will now have to supply safe drinking water to people who live within one mile of their farms. That’s one of the terms of their agreement with the Environmental Protection Agency.

They will have to control excessive manure and fertilizer. Both the EPA and dairies will test soil and groundwater to make sure the controls are working.

Dennis McLerran is the regional EPA administrator. He says the agreement comprehensively addresses nitrate contamination.

McLerran: “We think it’s in many ways a groundbreaking agreement, and it really provides a collaboration going forward on resolving the issues with nitrates in groundwater.”

Nitrates come from manure and fertilizers. When they contaminate drinking water, nitrates can be harmful to children and some adults.

The settlement comes after an EPA study last September. The study found the dairies were a likely cause of high nitrate levels in drinking water.

Copyright 2013 Northwest Public Radio