Water Quality Programs

Striving for watershed protection and enhancement, voluntary stewardship, and building partnerships

Oregon's Nonpoint Source Program is implemented by land use in order to address water quality issues on agricultural lands; state, private, or federal forest lands; and in urban areas. The goal of the NPS program has been broadened to safeguard groundwater resources as well as surface water. Forty-three local, state, and federal regulatory and non-regulatory programs address nonpoint source control and treatment in Oregon.
 
Implementation of the program relies on many agencies, including the federal Clean Water Act; state water quality standards, the total maximum daily load rule, the Coastal Zone Act Reauthorization Amendments (section 6217-Coastal NPS Control Program), the National Estuary Program, the Forest Practices Act, the Oregon Plan for Salmon and Watersheds, the Agricultural Water Quality Act, the State Land Use Planning Program, as well as state drinking water and groundwater protection programs.

 

Implementation strategies

 
​DEQ participates in Oregon Department of Agriculture’s effort to review and revise agricultural water quality management area plans consistent with ORS568.930. 
 
During the biennial review process, DEQ provides status and trends reports and comments to ODA’s area rules and plans
 

The quality of Oregon’s surface and groundwater can be affected by many factors and land uses, including agriculture. When properly managed, agricultural activities and lands are not expected to adversely affect water quality. However when improperly managed, agricultural activities impact water quality at a local and landscape level.  More than 25 percent of Oregon is in agricultural land use (Oregon Department of Agriculture statistics), which means there are millions of acres of land where proper land management can deliver agricultural productivity as well as improve water quality.


DEQ works closely with the Oregon Department of Agriculture's Water Quality Management Program to ensure water quality standards, Total Maximum Daily Loads, and other water quality goals are met on agricultural lands as described under a Memorandum of Agreement. ODA is responsible for implementing the Agricultural Water Quality Management Act through development and implementation of area plans and rules (this link takes you to the ODA website).    


DEQ participates in ODA’s effort to review and revise Agricultural Water Quality Management Area Plans consistent with ORS568.930.

​DEQ has a Memorandum of Understanding with the Bureau of Land Management and a Memorandum of Understanding with the US Forest Service to ensure water quality standards, TMDLs, and drinking water rules and regulations are met. This includes periodic assessments through 5-year progress reports and updates to the agreements.

​Oregon Department of Forestry and DEQ are involved in an ongoing cooperative effort to evaluate the sufficiency of current best management practices of the Oregon Forest Practices Act on state and privately owned (non-federal) forestlands in meeting water quality standards and TMDLs in accordance with a Memorandum of Understanding.


The 2002 ODF/DEQ Sufficiency Analysis: A Statewide Evaluation of FPA Effectiveness in Protecting Water Quality identified 12 recommendations that included improvements to the implementing rules or guidance of the FPA and other recommendations under the Oregon Plan for Salmon and Watersheds.


ODA, Oregon Division of State Lands, Oregon Department of Land Conservation and Development, Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, Oregon Parks and Recreation Department, and DEQ have common interests and responsibilities in protecting waters of the state and other natural resources during the conversion of forestland to non-forest uses.

These agencies have a Memorandum of Agreement detailing the process and responsibilities for transferring jurisdiction and ensuring protection of waters of the state during conversion of forestland to other land uses.

  • ​DEQ, in cooperation with the Oregon Department of Land Conservation and Development's Oregon Coastal Management Program, has developed Oregon's Coastal Nonpoint Pollution Control Program designed to restore and protect coastal waters from nonpoint source pollution. Coastal states are also required to implement a set of management measures based on guidance published by EPA.
  • Water Quality Model Code and Guidebook - The goal of the guidebook is to provide local communities, both small cities and counties, with a practical guide to protecting and enhancing water quality through improved land use regulations. The guidebook includes model development code ordinances and comprehensive plan policies that are ready for implementation.
  • DEQ’s Onsite Disposal Systems Program requires that onsite systems be located, designed, installed, operated, inspected, and maintained to prevent the discharge of pollutants to the surface of the ground and, to the extent practicable, reduce the discharge of pollutants into groundwater that is closely hydrologically connected to surface waters.