Complaints and Inspections

People often ask DEQ: how do you ensure facilities follow environmental laws? There are a lot of answers, but key parts are complaints, inspections and enforcement. This is the first of a two-part series that dives into the complaints and inspections process.

Lauren talks with the manager of the complaints system, a complaints inspector and two facility inspectors about how they receive complaints, find the source of pollution complaints, keep tabs on facilities that DEQ regulates and what happens when there is a violation.

The voices in the episode are:

  • Bryan Smith, complaints manager.
  • Bill Meyers, water quality complaints inspector.
  • Mike Kennedy, stormwater permit writer and inspector.
  • Justin Sterger, wastewater permit writer and inspector.

Listen to the podcast on: SoundCloud, Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher, or wherever you get your podcasts.


  • Introduction
  • Complaints program [3:25]
    • Purpose, most common complaints, number of complaints per year
  • How DEQ responds to complaints [9:50]
    • When do complaints tend to happen, how to track down sources of pollution
    • How complaints lead to enforcement
  • DEQ inspections for permitted facilities [17:20]
    • How this is different than complaints inspections
    • Announced vs. unannounced inspections
  • Technical assistance [27:40]
    • For complaints vs. for permitted facilities
  • Wrap-up [32:35]

Published by Oregon Department of Environmental Quality

DEQ’s mission is to be a leader in restoring, maintaining and enhancing the quality of Oregon’s air, land and water.

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