EPA Gives Oregon Water Report A Mixed Review

Mar 19, 2012

SALEM, Ore. -- Oregon’s 2010 water quality report has earned a mixed review from the U.S. EPA.

Scientists hope to gain new information about salmon migration patterns now that an in-depth study is back on track. Researchers at Oregon State University had to put their efforts on hold for the past two years. That's because most salmon fishing was restricted along the west coast. The goal of the research is to more accurately pinpoint where salmon from specific rivers spend their time in the ocean. OSU marine researcher Gil Sylvia says that could eventually mean fewer wide scale shutdowns of the salmon industry to protect endangered fish.

KELSO, Wash. – During timber's heyday, it was common to see tugboats pulling huge rafts of logs to area mills. In the process, many valuable old-growth trees sank to the bottom of Northwest rivers and lakes. That's given rise to different breed of logger. A few enterprising souls have sought to take advantage of the underwater hidden forest. But Washington State has moved decisively to shut down underwater timber salvage operations. That's effectively sunk the business in Oregon too.

The National Park Service, community leaders, and a Northwest Washington Indian tribe marked a major milestone Friday toward removing two dams on the Elwha River. They're on the north Olympic Peninsula.

Air pollution from oceangoing ships will be dramatically reduced under new rules agreed to by shipping companies, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and international regulators. The pollution rules affect container ships, cruise lines and oil tankers calling on West Coast ports.

Starting next year, some of the trash you toss out may end up in gas tanks instead of buried at a large regional landfill in eastern Oregon. 

This project is a joint venture between landfill operator Waste Management Inc. and a small engineering company based in Bend called InEnTec. The partners announced they'll build their first waste-to-energy plant at the big landfill near Arlington, Oregon. The planned facility will vaporize trash in a very high temperature melter. Spokeswoman Jackie Lang says the resulting superheated gases can then be recombined to make synthetic fuel.

Photo taken by the Department of Ecology for Washington State

The lack of snow pack this winter in the Northwest could spell problems for irrigators. That is especially true in areas that have had long term problems with water supply, like the Yakima basin.

The Yakima basin is an agricultural region that has dealt with water shortages for many years. The U.S. bureau of Reclamation serves several irrigation districts in the region, but while much of the water comes from the Yakima River, Reclamation spokeswoman Wendy Christiansen says a good portion is dependent on mountain snow pack.

RICHLAND, Wash. – The water system is sick in a huge swath of Eastern Washington -- from Union Gap near Yakima to Benton City near the Tri-Cities. State and federal officials announced Thursday that much of the ground water in the lower valley is dangerous to drink. Correspondent Anna King reports. 

The Yakima Valley is like a multi layered cake punched with a network of drinking straws. There are irrigation drainage pipes, farm canals, deep wells, really old shallow wells, aquifers and rivers all coming. Somehow lots of nitrates and bacteria are getting into the ground water.

SALEM, Ore. - Many of Oregon's major transportation corridors would be impassable if a major earthquake hit. That's the upshot of a study released today by the Oregon Department of Transportation. Salem Correspondent Chris Lehman reports.

ODOT engineers used a new computer simulation program to subject Oregon bridges to hypothetical major earthquakes. The result? Many bridges along the state's biggest highways would be out of commission for months, if not longer, if a huge quake hit. That includes Interstate 5, according to ODOT's Dave Thompson:

Oregon is pushing its coastal counties to standardize the sound of tsunami warning sirens. Washington state has already done so. Correspondent Tom Banse reports.

Oregon's Emergency Management Office uses the words “mish mash” to describe the current array of tsunami warning sounds. Seaside, Oregon for example has used a steady siren wail during evacuation drills.