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Well contamination to be addressed at public meeting in Granger next week

GRANGER - Options for addressing contamination in shallow drinking water wells in the Lower Yakima Valley will be presented at a Wednesday, Oct. 21, meeting in Granger from 6 to 9 p.m. at the Northwest Community Action Center/KDNA building.

Shallow wells dispersed throughout the Lower Yakima Valley have been found to have nitrate and bacteria levels above state drinking water standards.

The public is invited to attend the meeting and comment on recommendations recently released in a draft report by the EPA, Yakima County and the state departments of agriculture, ecology and health.

Nitrate is a chemical found in most fertilizers, animal manure and liquid waste from septic systems. Elevated levels of nitrates in drinking water pose a risk to infants and pregnant women, as well as people with a rare blood enzyme disorder. Bacteria transmitted through animal and human waste can cause illnesses that are dangerous to even healthy people.

"Tackling groundwater pollution is a daunting prospect," said Tom Tebb, central regional director for the Department of Ecology. "No one agency has the authority or resources needed to solve problems associated with private drinking water wells. (But) each agency and each community member can take part in helping to solve the problem."

Recommendations in the report include creating a sampling effort to link potential contamination and sources, and to identify best management practices for reducing nitrate contamination. The report also recommends local leaders create a coordinating body as that found in groundwater management areas or sole-source aquifer protection areas in other parts of the state.

Comments from Lower Yakima Valley residents will be included in the final report, which will ultimately be recommended to decision makers.

Copies of the report will be made available at the Oct. 21 meeting. It can also be viewed by visiting www.ecy.wa.gov.

Those who are unable to attend the meeting can send comments to Ryan Anderson, Department of Ecology, 15 W. Yakima Ave., Suite 200, Yakima, 98902. Comments can also be emailed to rand461@ecy.wa.gov.

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