Lawyer raises nitrate issue

Granger forum calls for locals to speak up

— An Oregon attorney who sued local dairies is calling for rural residents to monitor their water and the dairy industry.

Charlie Tebbutt spoke during a forum last night on nitrate pollution in rural wells.

“We’re just here to help people know their rights and listen to their stories,” he said.

Tebbutt said the forum was an opportunity for well issues and dairy practices to “... see the light of day.”

In 2013, Tebbutt represented groups that sued the Liberty-Bosma, Cow Palace, D&A, R.M. Haak & Sons and George DeRuyter and Sons dairies.

The suit claimed dairies violated the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act. It said they mishandled manure, contaminating water supplies.

Dairy advocates claim high nitrate levels stem from many sources.

For example, they contend rural septic systems and agricultural practices from decades ago also contribute to high nitrate levels.

A settlement was reached in 2015.

A goal of last night’s forum was to also rally the public to make sure dairies are following its terms.

The settlement, in which the dairies admitted no wrongdoing, requires them to provide clean drinking water to residents near their dairies who have contaminated water.

The dairies are also required to change some operational practices.

They include alleviating and removing pools of water that may form in cow pens and install concrete aprons along all water troughs.

“He (Tebbutt) wants us to all band together to keep track,” Kathleen Rogers said last night. She lives in Grandview and is a member of a groundwater advisory committee.

The forum also was an attempt to rally those in areas not benefitting from the settlement.

“He wants people to come forward and not be afraid to get their well tested,” Rogers said.

Another person in attendance last night, who wished to remain anonymous, said Tebbutt had another motive, “He’s trying to generate billable hours.”


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