Water Quality Programs

Who does what?

Although DEQ has primary responsibility for groundwater protection, Oregon’s groundwater quality protection program consists of a number of programs spread among different state agencies.  Four state agencies, the Department of Environmental Quality, the Oregon Department of Human Services Drinking Water Program, the Water Resources Division, and the Oregon Department of Agriculture implement the majority of federal and state programs relating to groundwater.  

DEQ programs

In addition to implementing the following programs, it is the Water Quality Division's responsibility to oversee the implementation of the Groundwater Quality Protection Act and rules. DEQ also permits artificial groundwater recharge projects, as needed, and provides input to WRD for aquifer storage and recovery projects. The Laboratory Division provides monitoring support to many program areas relating to groundwater, including groundwater monitoring for the Groundwater Management Areas.


Drinking Water Protection Program 

  • Implemented by DEQ and DHS-DWP for Oregon.
  • Requires states to develop Source Water Assessments for public water supply systems (surface water and groundwater sources).

Groundwater Management Areas  

  • Designated by DEQ when groundwater in an area has elevated contaminant concentrations resulting, at least in part, from non-point sources.
  • Oregon has designated three GWMAs because of elevated nitrate concentrations in groundwater. 

Onsite Sewage Disposal Program 

  • Regulates the installation of individual on-site disposal systems with procedures to protect groundwater.
  • In some areas, the county runs the program and issues permits under DEQ guidelines.

Underground Injection Control Program 

  • Regulates waste injection into the ground with groundwater protection requirements.

Wastewater Permitting Program 

  • Regulates the disposal of wastewater through federal NPDES and state WPCF permits.
  • Facilities having the potential to impact groundwater are required to have a groundwater quality protection program (implemented by DEQ regional offices). 

Water Reuse Program 

  • Prescribes treatment and monitoring requirements for the beneficial use of wastewater.

Biosolids Management 

  • Encourages the beneficial use of biosolids to protect public health and the environment.
  • Almost all biosolids derived from domestic wastewater treatment facilities in Oregon are applied to the land for agricultural purposes.

Solid Waste Program 

  • Permits the siting and management of new industrial and municipal solid waste facilities. 
  • New facilities are required to conduct site investigations and water quality monitoring to determine the landfill’s potential to impact groundwater.
  • Facilities which pose a threat to groundwater quality are required to perform groundwater monitoring and reporting and install synthetic liners and leachate collection and treatment systems.

Hazardous Waste Program 

  • Administers statutes and rules to regulate and permit the generation, storage, transportation, treatment and disposal of hazardous waste.

Cleanup Program 

  • Provides for identification and remediation of sites contaminated with hazardous substances.
  • Incorporates Site Assessment, Voluntary Cleanup, Independent Cleanup, Brownfields, Dry Cleaners, Orphans, and Site Response. 

Tanks Program

  • Incorporates the Underground Storage Tank Program, Leaking Underground Storage Tank Program, and the Heating Oil Tank Program.
  • Leaking UST Program specifically deals with cleanup of soil and groundwater contamination from underground storage tanks.   

Other state agencies

Oregon Department of Human Services Drinking Water Program

  • Administers the Safe Drinking Water Act programs (including Public Water System monitoring, Real Estate Transaction Well-Testing, Drinking Water Protection Program (with DEQ), Wellhead Protection Area Certification, & provides technical assistance to to PWS on well construction issues).
  • Provides input to WRD on Artificial Groundwater Recharge and ASR projects.

 Oregon Department of Water Resources

  • Allocates groundwater and surface water rights.
  • Provides water resource data.
  • Administers the statutes and rules governing monitoring and supply well construction, usage, & abandonment, low temperature geothermal wells, and ASR.
  • Conducts extensive groundwater investigations.

Oregon Department of Agriculture

  •  Has lead responsibility for water quality protection in areas of agricultural activites.
  • Regulates pesticide registration and use, develops agricultural water quality management plans, regulates and permits confined animal feeding operations, and administers ODA grants for groundwater research and development.

Oregon State University Extension Service

  • Conducts research and provides information related to agricultural and land-use issues, including studies of agricultural practices impact on groundwater and monitoring groundwater for nitrate. 

Oregon Department of Land Conservation and Development

  • Responsible for reviewing local land use plans and regulations for compliance with the statewide planning goals.
  • Several statewide planning goals require local governments to establish policies and implement measures necessary to protect groundwater.

Oregon Department of Geology and Mineral Industries

  • Permitting agency for gas and oil wells, mining development and reclamation, and geothermal wells (for systems with temperatures 250 degrees F or greater or depths 2,000 feet or deeper). 
  • Coordinates with DEQ and other agencies to address groundwater issues related to permitting. 

Oregon Department of Energy

  • Regulates energy facilities, radioactive wastes and the transport of radioactive material.
  • Coordinates these activities with DEQ and other state agencies, as applicable.