Federal Government Targets Canby, Molalla for Drinking Water Quality Improvement

At different times over the years, Canby residents have complained about water that, while safe to drink, smelled and tasted like maybe you’d rather not. In the coming new year, the U.S. Department of Agriculture has announced it will develop a detailed assessment and strategy to address agricultural impacts on source water quality in the Canby and Molalla area.

Farm runoff is one of the main factors in the algae blooms that have helped cause Canby’s water quality issues in the past. The USDA selected only 16 proposals for this phase of its National Water Quality Initiative, five of them here in Oregon. In addition to Canby/Molalla, the communities of Myrtle Point, Baker City, Eugene and Winston/Dillard were approved for funding.

The communities were selected based on a set of screening criteria and resources jointly developed by the USDA along with the Oregon Department of Agriculture and Oregon DEQ, among others. Support for these projects was high from the local watershed representatives including the county soil and water conservation districts, watershed councils, drinking water utilities and other local partners.

“We’re very excited about the opportunity to better understand land management impacts on drinking water in the Source Water Protection Areas and whether there are ways to bring in resources to help reduce those impacts,” says Jason Faucera, conservation planning program manager for the Clackamas Soil and Water Conservation District.

The USDA has already begun working with farms, ranchers and other partners in the participating communities to develop drinking water source protection plans and outreach strategies. Once the assessments are completed, Canby/Molalla and the other participating areas will be eligible to receive federal Farm Bill funding to implement the measures identified in their plans specific to agricultural impacts.

Examples of conservation practices that could be implemented include planting trees along streams and waterways to serve as natural buffers, building fences to keep cattle away from drinking water sources, installing off-channel livestock watering facilities, managing fertilizer applications, forest health practices and more.

Canby’s drinking water comes from the Molalla River through Canby Utility, which contracts with Veolia North America to test and treat the water they collect and ensure its quality and safety for residents and businesses in Canby. Canby Utility prepares an annual water quality report, which you can check out here.

Photo by Steve Johnson.

Click to access water_quality_ccr_2016.pdf

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