Feldon Favors ‘Win-Win’ Solutions to Safe Drinking Water

Nitrogen Removal in 4 Steps: Future Operations at the Port of Morrow

In an interview with Pat Dooris of KGW-TV, DEQ Director Leah Feldon described an immediate ban on winter land application of industrial wastewater by the Port of Morrow as a “lose-lose” proposition. Feldon said resulting plant closures would have a significant economic impact with no significant effect on safe drinking water in the Lower Umatilla Basin.

Feldon said she is looking for “win-win” solutions that result in safe drinking water, as well as upgrade the Port’s wastewater treatment system to control nitrate levels in reused water for irrigation and larger lagoon storage capacity to avoid winter land application.

During the interview, Feldon reiterated the Port is only a small contributor to the Basin’s longstanding water quality issues. Feldon also said the Port for the last two years has limited winter land application of wastewater to “low risk” irrigation circles. Winter land application of Port wastewater will be banned in 2026.

Winter irrigation with wastewater is problematic, she explained, because crops don’t absorb as much nitrogen as they do during the growing season.

Port wastewater treatment improvements will cost around $500 million. Anaerobic digesters are already completed. Construction on secondary water treatment and storage lagoons will start this summer.

You can watch the entire Feldon interview at https://youtu.be/nqfLvF7yCc8?list=PLP1SbsVYy04xMBTwAu1zlzZ233qnmS8aG

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