On Dec. 19, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) opened a 90-day public comment period on a proposal to disapprove Oregon’s coastal nonpoint pollution program. The program, they say, falls short in three key areas: water quality impacts from forestry, septic systems, and new development.

In controlling impacts from timber harvesting, the program must better protect small- and medium-sized streams as well as landslide prone areas. It must also address runoff from forest roads built prior to modern construction and drainage requirements. To develop an acceptable coastal nonpoint program, Oregon also needs to ensure that septic systems are inspected and properly maintained and sediment runoff from new development is prevented from entering rivers and streams.

States participating in the National Coastal Zone Management Program are required to develop a Coastal Nonpoint Pollution Control Program that describes its components and enforceable mechanisms that are used to prevent and control polluted runoff in coastal waters. With an approved coastal nonpoint program, Oregon would be able to access funding under the Coastal Zone Management Act.

Public comments are due March 21. NOAA and EPA also have concerns about nonpoint source impacts from agricultural activities and also are inviting comments from the public on Oregon’s agricultural program. Read more.