March 20, 2024

Wyden, Merkley Support DEQ Oversight for Knife River Corporation West’s Wastewater Permit in Crook County

Washington D.C. – U.S. Senators Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley said today they support the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) addressing concerns raised by the Crook County Board of Commissioners and local residents regarding the Knife River Corporation-West’s wastewater permit in the county.

“[Crook County] residents have continued to raise concerns over unsafe drinking water and potential health impacts to humans including skin rashes, as well as health impacts to livestock and domestic animals, including unexplained deaths of cows and chickens,” the senators wrote to DEQ Director Leah Feldon.

Wyden and Merkley noted that elevated levels of manganese and aluminum can hurt community health, especially for vulnerable people. They also wrote that DEQ has a crucial responsibility to exercise oversight authority under its interagency agreement with the Oregon Department of Geology and Mineral (DOGAMI) to protect Crook County residents who rely on this aquifer as the primary source of their drinking water.

We are encouraged to learn the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality has heard these concerns and will be working with the community and the Oregon Health Authority on a plan for sampling and analysis of the wells. We stand ready as federal partners to support these efforts,” the senators concluded.   

A copy of the entire letter is here.