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Supplemental Environmental Projects

The Oregon Department of Environmental Quality enforces environmental laws to protect Oregon's air, land and water. The DEQ Office of Compliance and Enforcement issues fines and requires violators to correct violations. Typically, these fines go to the state of Oregon's general fund. DEQ's Supplemental Environmental Project policy allows up to 80% of fines to go to projects that benefit human health and the environment. DEQ reviews proposed projects on a case-by-case basis.

Learn about how SEPs work to fund local projects

DEQ periodically updates its policy on SEPs to ensure that it is effective in enhancing human health and the environment. DEQ would like to talk with community members to understand what they know about doing these projects and what barriers exist to them participating. These discussions will help DEQ evaluate the ways it can update its policy.

DEQ held two information and listening sessions in June. We are working on updating the policy and incorporating the comments the agency received.

Fact sheet: Turning Violations Into Environmental Projects   
Hoja informativa: Convertir Las Infracciones en Proyectos Ambientales 

After updating the policy, DEQ enforcement staff will hold regular meetings where groups interested in getting project funding can come, ask questions and provide feedback. These meetings will start in fall 2023. If you have any questions, feel free to reach out to us at Join our Enforcement Actions email list on GovDelivery to stay informed.

This work is the result of a partnership between DEQ enforcement and a number of community-based organizations that have asked DEQ to provide more information about SEPs and to evaluate how the policy could be improved.

Qualifying for a Supplemental Environmental Project

In order to qualify, the project:

  • The project must primarily benefit the environment or public health in Oregon.
  • As much money must be spent on the project as is sought in the penalty reduction.
  • The project cannot be an activity or result that is already required by law or set to become a future requirement.
  • The portion of the project attributable to penalty reduction is not funded by government contracts, loans or grants.
  • The project does not create a significant market or economic advantage for the violator.
  • The project does not result in DEQ controlling the funds or implementing the project.
  • If the violator is doing the project itself, the project must be commensurate with the violator’s expertise and capabilities.
  • The violator must provide a final report on the project. 

For more information, see the DEQ fact sheet: SEP Frequently Asked Questions.

Types of Supplemental Environmental Projects

Projects can include activities that improve air quality, reduce hazardous waste, encourage more efficient use of resources, improve water quality, reduce or clean up solid waste, or aid in environmental emergency preparedness.

For a complete list of types of projects available and contacts for assistance, see the DEQ fact sheet: Project Ideas and Contacts.

Recent examples of supplemental projects

The following are just a few recent examples of Supplemental Environmental Projects, funded by civil penalties that provided real tangible environmental benefits to Oregon communities.

The project supports the planting of trees in the Sumner, Cully, Parkrose, Argay, and Wilks neighborhoods as well as within the Columbia Slough watershed. The specific plangent sites were developed through consultation with community. Urban tree planting provides significant human health and environmental benefits, including carbon sequestration, enhanced air quality (trees can hold small particles on their surfaces and reduce ground level ozone, shade and reduced urban heat island effect, habitat creation, and stormwater management. ​​

​This program helps residents replace old woodstoves with either non wood heating devices or new certified low-emitting woodstoves in Klamath Falls and Chiloquin. Exchanging old woodstoves for alternative energy-efficient unites, EPA-certified woodstoves, or certified fireplace inserts reduces particulate matter emissions in local airsheds. Particulate matter emissions are a serious public health and environmental concern because, once inhaled, these pollutants can affect the heart and lungs, causing serious health problems. This SEP contribution funded the replacement of 15 old woodstoves and the purchase of six air quality monitors for Klamath County to provide timely and accurate air quality assessments to residents to reduce exposure to elevated pollutant levels. ​​

​​This program helps increase groundwater elevations and improve local groundwater quality in the shallow alluvial aquifer and the spring-fed streams that are tributaries to the Walla Walla River. The SEP contribution helped fund two managed aquifer recharge sites (the Gallagher site and the Ringer Road site) in the Walla Walla Valley, near the communities of Milton-Freewater and Umapine.

​SOLVE was founded in 1969 by Oregon Governor Tom McCall. Its mission is to “bring Oregonians together to improve our environment and build a legacy of stewardship." This SEP contribution helped fund cleanup events in public areas along the Columbia and Willamette rivers. Participants removed hazardous substances, household wastes, marine waste and litter, preventing pollutants from going into waterways. Litter and marine debris are a serious environmental concern that may result in the malnutrition, entanglement and strangulation of wildlife. ​


Kieran O’Donnell
Office of Compliance and Enforcement