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Groundwater advisory group schedules first meeting

A far-flung group given the charge to address Yakima County's problems with nitrate-tainted groundwater will hold its first meeting in Sunnyside next week.

The Lower Yakima Valley Groundwater Advisory Committee will meet next Tuesday, June 5, at 5 p.m. in the Denny Blaine building board room.

The 20-member committee includes conversationists, dairy producers, health and state agency officials. The committee also includes Jim Trull of the Sunnyside Irrigation District and Robert Farrell from the Port of Sunnyside.

In related news, Yakima County commissioners yesterday, Tuesday, agreed to hire Seattle-based EnviroIssues to facilitate the advisory committee's work.

Don Gatchalian is the county's assistant director of public services for environmental programs, and he says the committee's meetings will be run by EnviroIssues, a Seattle firm hired to facilitate the committee's work and assist the group in identifying its goals.

Gatchalian said the contract approved yesterday calls for EnviroIssues to run up to 12 meetings over the next 12 months.

Total cost for EnviroIssues' work and travel related to the nitrate issue here is $46,000, to be funded out of a state grant awarded to the county.

Gatchalian said Yakima County Commissioner Rand Elliott will also attend next week's meeting.

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