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DEQ Lab releases water quality report for northeastern Oregon rivers

A new report from the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality shows water quality results for 17 rivers and streams in northeastern Oregon’s Grande Ronde, John Day, Powder and Walla Walla River basins.

DEQ analyzed the area’s rivers and streams for nearly 500 chemicals and detected 124. Most chemicals DEQ tested for were either not detected at all or were found at low levels.

None of the chemicals were found at levels that would pose an immediate threat to public health. This means the area’s rivers and streams continue to be safe for recreation and other uses. However, the Oregon Health Authority has a statewide fish advisory that recommends people limit how much bass they eat due to mercury levels.

The most common chemicals DEQ found were arsenic, metals, legacy pesticides and DDT—an insecticide banned in the U.S. in 1972. These chemicals can come from industrial, agricultural and consumer products.

“The goals of this sampling are to gather information on chemicals of concern, identify their potential sources, make the information available to the public, and work with partners to reduce pollutant concentrations,” said Dan Brown, DEQ water quality assessment specialist.

DEQ staff collected river and stream samples three times in 2016 at 20 locations in northeastern Oregon.

DEQ will continue monitoring toxics levels northeastern Oregon waterways. This information helps water quality managers prioritize and implement pollution reduction measures.

Read the full report: Northeast River Basin Toxics Monitoring Summary

—Laura Gleim, public affairs specialist, 503-577-3697,

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