Washington Department of Ecology Director Ted Sturdevant has announced the appointment of members and alternatives to serve on an advisory board for the newly formed Lower Yakima Valley Groundwater Management Area.
In a letter to appointees, Sturdevant said the locally led effort has the great potential to address a long-term problem of nitrate contamination that threatens human health and the vitality of the Lower Yakima Valley.
Appointed to the committee are: - Stuart Turner, agronomist, Turner and Co.;
Helen Reddout, Community Association for Restoration of the Environment (CARE); Robert Morales, community representative; Jean Mendoza, Eric Anderson (alternate), Friends of Toppenish Creek; Jan Whitefoot, Jim Dyjak (alternate), Concerned Citizens of the Yakama Reservation; Steve George, Don Young (alternate), Yakima County Farm Bureau; Jason Sheehan, Dan DeGroot (alternate), Yakima Dairy Federation; Jim Trull, Sunnyside, Roza Joint Board of Control; Laurie Crowe, Jim Newhouse (alternate), South Yakima Conservation District; Mark Nielson, Heather Wendt (alternate), Benton Conservation District; Robert Farrell, John Van Wingerden (alternate), Port of Sunnyside; Gordon Kelly, Yakima County Health District; Bruce Perkins, Benton-Franklin Health District; Dr. Kefy Desta, WSU Irrigated Agriculture Research and Extension Center; Tom Eaton, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA); Elizabeth Sanchey, Tom Ring (alternate), Yakama Nation; Lonna Frans, Matt Bachmann (alternate), U.S. Geological Survey; Kirk Cook, Jaclyn Ford (alternate), Washington Department of Agriculture; Andy Cervantes, Ginny Stern (alternate), Washington Department of Health; and Charlie McKinney, Tom Tebb (alternate), Department of Ecology.
"Advisory committee members will help chart the direction and actions of the groundwater program and have a chance to contribute to its ultimate success," Sturdevant said. "We're looking forward to this board working collaboratively with the county and agencies to implement strategies to protect drinking water and prevent further contamination to soil and groundwater."
Yakima County as the lead agency will conduct the first organizational meeting of the committee, to be scheduled later this spring.
"We fully support the committee and its mission," said County Commissioner Rand Elliott. "We look forward to its recommendations for reducing nitrates in Lower Valley groundwater."
In November, Sturdevant authorized Yakima County to develop a groundwater management program to tackle elevated nitrates in groundwater and drinking water in the Lower Yakima Valley.
In addition, Ecology officials have pledged approximately $300,000 in start-up funding for the Lower Yakima Valley Groundwater Management Area.