In March, the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) denied a permit to the Fairview Lake Property Owners Association (FLPOA) to discharge herbicides to Fairview Lake based on concerns raised by NWEA. In May, DEQ turned around and granted the permit to discharge Diquat, a herbicide. FLPOA had applied for coverage under one of Oregon’s General Permits, a process that allows for no public notice and comment and for which DEQ does very little if any technical review. (In DEQ’s view, spraying known poisons directly and indirectly into Oregon waters does not merit much regulation.)
NWEA was made aware of the FLPOA application, however, and sent comments to DEQ raising numerous issues. One concern is that Fairview Lake and the Columbia Slough into which it flows are already impaired by numerous parameters including low levels of dissolved oxygen and high levels of nutrients. The Clean Water Act prohibits discharges which increase pollution of impaired waters.
After DEQ issued the permit on May 15th, NWEA filed a petition for reconsideration. The petition points out that DEQ issued the permit despite the fact that native turtles live in Fairview Lake, the herbicide is expected to harm turtles and their habitat, and DEQ is unaware of where turtles reside in the lake or whether the pesticide applicator can keep the Diquat away from the turtles. The populations of Oregon’s native turtles are dwindling, a fact that apparently does not concern the DEQ.