Environmental groups are suing Oregon’s Department of Environmental Quality over its regulation of stormwater pollution from over 900 industrial sites like lumber yards, scrap metal yards and truck depots.
Columbia Riverkeeper and the Northwest Environmental Defense Center claim the state’s permit for stormwater pollution allows for pollution levels that violate the Clean Water Act and imperil public health and salmon.
“The state has a one size fits all permit that every industrial site in the state needs to comply with. DEQ chose to issue a very lax permit with very weak limits,” said Lauren Goldberg, an attorney with Columbia Riverkeeper.
Goldberg said Oregon’s permits also keep the public in the dark.
Facilities in Washington, and those regulated directly by the EPA, are required to report their monitoring results four times per year, while Oregon’s DEQ requires that reporting once per year. Washington’s Department of Ecology is also currently facing legal challenges over its regulation of stormwater pollution into Puget Sound. Nationally, stormwater runoff is a leading cause of water pollution.
In a statement, Oregon’s DEQ said it agrees the permits are important for controlling stormwater pollution, and that the agency is evaluating the complaint.
It is not the first time Oregon has been challenged over its water pollution permits. The environmental groups pushed DEQ to revise the permit in August. Earlier in 2017, the agency was sued over its backlog of old water quality permits, which is among the worst in the country.