LUBGWMA Committee


Lower Umatilla Basin Groundwater Management Area

Establishment of LUBGWMA

The Oregon Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) designated the Lower Umatilla Basin a Groundwater Management Area (GWMA) (ORS 468B.180) in 1990 because of elevated nitrate concentrations in groundwater samples. According to the First Action Plan, DEQ established the LUBGWMA Committee in 1996 under the Oregon Ground Water Quality Protection Act of 1989 (ORS 468B.150 to 468B.190)(“the Act”) for the purpose of restoring and improving groundwater quality by decreasing nitrate concentration to less than 7 mg/l in the groundwater in the basin, which is 70% of the federal safe drinking water standard of 10 mg/l. This area encompasses Northern Morrow and Umatilla counties including Hermiston, Boardman, Irrigon, Stanfield, and Echo. 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 women. Sources of excess nitrate in water include fertilizers, septic systems, wastewater treatment effluent, animal wastes, industrial wastes, and food processing wastewater.

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.

The LUBGWMA Committee has been restructured and became a Public Body on November 4th, 2022. DEQ has formed the LUBGWMA Committee with a voting body that consists of 11 voting members from 10 regionally representative categories, including Morrow County, Umatilla County, Science and Research, Industry and Business, Irrigated Agriculture, Livestock/Dairy/CAFO, Environmental Organizations, City Government, Tribal Government, and General Public (2 members).

Goals of LUBGWMA Committee

On February 17th, 2023 the Bylaw for the LUBGWMA Committee was established. According to the Bylaw the purpose of the LUBGWMA Committee is outlined below.

The purpose of the LUBGWMA Committee shall be to develop and promote long-term strategies and plans to reduce groundwater nitrate levels in the LUBGWMA to less than 7.0 mg/l:
● Provide a range of local knowledge and expertise specific to the region and state in order to assist in decreasing the nitrate groundwater concentrations in the LUBGWMA.
● Fulfill the statutory obligations (ORS 468B.179) provided in the Oregon Groundwater Quality Protection Act and the declaration of a GWMA by DEQ, including (ORS 468B.183) but not limited to:
o Develop and promote a local action plan for the LUBGWMA.
o Evaluate portions of the local action plan, if any, that achieved a reduction in contaminant level.
o Advise the state agencies to develop a Local Action Plan under ORS 468B.184, ORS 468B.185, ORS 468B.186, and ORS 468B.187 regarding local elements of the plan; and
o Analyze the local action plans developed to determine why the plan failed to improve or prevent further deterioration of the groundwater in the LUBGWMA
● Work with relevant federal and state agencies, tribes, and regional, state, national, and international experts to ensure actions proposed to reduce nitrate concentrations are based on accurate and current scientific principles, methodologies, and knowledge;

● Review information provided by local and lead Agency (ies) implementing nitrate mitigation
● Receive and review information from stakeholders regarding actions and projects implemented to reduce nitrate concentrations to below 7 mg/l and evaluate the effectiveness of those actions and projects in reducing nitrate concentrations in LUBGWMA in collaboration with universities, local and state agencies, and other relevant experts in the field; and
● Identify funding opportunities to reduce nitrate groundwater concentrations in the LUBGWMA and share it with other regional water management efforts.

Major Milestones


Formation of First Action Plan – December 1997


Formation of Second Action Plan – October 2020

Completion of the Tenure as Chair by Dr. Scott Lucks Oregon State University– August 2022


  1. Appointment of Chair Dr. Salini Sasidharan (Oregon State University) and Vice Chair Commissioner Dan Dorran (Umatilla County) – September 2022
  2. Formation of a Formal Committee with 11 members Representing Diverse Categories and Expertise – September 2022 – July 2023
    • Morrow County – Commissioner Roy Drago Jr. (Primary); Tamra Mabbott (Alternate), Morrow County
    • Umatilla County – Commissioner Dan Dorran (Former Committee Vice Chair, primary); Robert (Bob) Waldher (Alternate), Umatilla County
    • Tribal Government – Eric Quaempts (Primary); Kate Ely (Alternate), Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation (CTUIR)
    • City Government – Aaron Palmquist, City of Irrigon (Primary); David Stockdale, City of Umatilla (Alternate)
    • Science and Research – Dr. Salini Sasidharan, Oregon State University (Former Committee Chair, Primary); Dr. Ruijun Qin (Ray) (Alternate)
    • Irrigated Agriculture – Jake Madison (Primary); TBD (Alternate), Madison Farms
    • Livestock/Dairy/CAFO – Greg Harris (Primary); Misty Edgecomb (Alternate), Threemile Canyon Farms
    • Industry and Business – Ian Toevs, Lamb Weston (Primary); Debbie Radie, Boardman Foods, Inc. (Alternate)
    • Environmental Nonprofit Organizations – Karen Lewotsky (Primary); Jana Gastellum (Alternate), Oregon Environmental Council
    • General Public (position 1) – Kristin Anderson Ostrom (Primary); Kaleb Lay (Alternate), Oregon Rural Action
    • General Public (position 2) – Jose Garcia, resident and community leader (Primary); Eric Ashford (Alternate)
  3. Appoint Morrow County Soil and Water Conservation District as the Lead Agency for Implementation (Secretary for LUBGWMA Committee: Kevin D. Payne, District Manager – Natural Resource Specialist) – September 2022P
  4. Present the Status and Goals of the LUBGWMA at House Interim Committee on Agriculture, Land Use, and Water by Salini Sasidharan – September 2022
  5. Enhanced Website Interface and Communication – December 2022
  6. Appointing a Postdoc with the Institute of Water and Watershed and Department of Biological and Ecological Engineering, Oregon State University, to Develop a Conceptual Hydrogeology Model for the LUBGWMA – December 2022
  7. Establishment and Approval of Bylaws Providing a Structured Framework for Our Operations – February 2023
  8. LUBGWMA Committee was Established as a Public Body with Confirmation from the Department of Justice – April 2023
  9. Work closely with HDR to Draft a Roadmap to Implementation of the Second Action Plan – May 2023
  10. Statue Evaluation and Defining the Roles and Responsibilities of Various Agencies – March 2023
  11. A Comprehensive Evaluation of the Second Action Plan at the LUBGWMA Committee and Proposal for Multiday Workshop – May 2023
  12. Conducted the Regional Pre-Workshop Survey to Identify Workshop Format, Key Second Action Priorities and Participants – July 2023
  13. Hosting the First LUBGWMA Regional Workshop and Development an Actionable Roadmap to Success – August 2023
    • The outcomes included:
      • Prioritizing actionable goals, such as developing a groundwater model for the basin and dividing the GWMA into subsections.
      • Identifying funding sources.
      • Appointing a facilitator to serve as a liaison between the committee and agencies.
      • Developing a data platform.
      • Creating an inventory of best management practices.
      • Establishing a pilot study site for hotspots.
      • Forming action-oriented subcommittees.
  14. Formation of Action-Oriented Subcommittee and Appointment of Subcommittee Coordinators – December 2023
    • Funding – Subcommittee Coordinator/s: Dan Dorran (PM); Gregg Harris(AM)
    • Technical – Subcommittee Coordinator/s: Salini Sasidharan (PM); Ian Toevs (AM)
    • Liaison and Partnership – Subcommittee Coordinator/s: Jake Madison (PM); Karen Lewotsky (AM)
    • Communication – Subcommittee Coordinator/s: Misty Edgecomb (PM); Debbie Radie (AM)
    • Best Management Practices – Subcommittee Coordinator/s: Bob Waldher (PM); Tamra Mabbott (AM)
  15. Established a LUBGWMA Committee Operational Structure and Decision-Making (Voting) Framework – November 2023
  16. Appointment of the Facilitator Jane Hill, a Liaison between LUBGWMA Committee and State Agencies – January 2024
  17. Recruitment of Members for various Subcommittees via General Public Recruitment Call to Ensure the Inclusion of Regionwide Experts – February 2024
  18. Coordination of New Subcommittee Meetings and Establishment on Subcommittee Goals and Priorities – March 2024
  19. Completion of the Tenure as Chair by Dr. Salini Sasidharan and Vice Chair by Commissioner Dan Dorran and Completion of 15th LUBGWMA Committee Meeting – April 2024
  20. The First Visit of Directors from DEQ, ODA and OWRD at LUBGWMA Committee Meeting and Discussed the Path Forward for Resources and Agency Leadership – April 2024
  21. Transition of Committee as The LUBGWMA Advisory Committee Inspired by Walla Walla Basin Advisory Committee (WWBAC) Under the Direction of Governor’s Office – April 2024