Lower Umatilla Basin Groundwater Management Area

In accordance with Oregon’s Groundwater Quality Protection Act of 1989, the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) and the Oregon Department of Agriculture (ODA) declared the Lower Umatilla Basin a Groundwater Management Area (GWMA) in 1990 because regional nitrate-nitrogen concentrations exceeded 7 milligrams per liter (mg/L). This area encompasses Northern Morrow and Umatilla counties including Hermiston, Boardman, Irrigon, Stanfield, and Echo, Oregon. After the Groundwater Management Area was declared, a four-year interagency hydrogeological investigation was conducted to determine the extent of contamination and to identify the potential sources of that contamination.

High nitrate concentrations in drinking water are linked with serious health concerns for infants and pregnant or nursing women. Sources of excess nitrate in water include fertilizers, septic systems, wastewater treatment effluent, animal wastes, industrial wastes, and food processing wastewater.

The intent of declaring a Groundwater Management Area is to allow the identification and implementation of practices that will reduce nitrate loading and ultimately reduce regional groundwater nitrate concentrations to below 7 mg/L.  

To accomplish such tasks, the LUBGWMA Committee was formed and is composed of local area businesses, residents and governments representing a broad range of interests within the local area and basin. The committee is an official body and has since developed voluntary Action Plans with the help of Umatilla and Morrow County Soil and Water Conservation Districts.

*A special thanks to the Port of Morrow for hosting this website*