By MITCH LIES
SALEM -- The Oregon Department of Agriculture plans to start water quality pilot projects this summer under a water quality plan approved by the Oregon Board of Agriculture March 7.
The department plans to initiate what they are calling strategic implementation on two sites out of five now under consideration -- one on the east side and one on the west side of the state.
The sites have been identified as areas of existing water-quality concerns in agriculturally influenced watersheds, say Ray Jaindl, program director in ODA's natural resources division.
Jaindl said ODA is working with Soil and Water Conservation District and Natural Resources Conservation Service staff on site selections. Once sites are selected, the organizations plan to work with landowners on strategic plans for addressing water-quality problems.
Plans are to do a pre-assessment of the sites gauging landscape conditions and water-quality data and then work with individuals to implement landscape projects on a voluntary basis, Jaindl said.
The hope, Jaindl said, is to marry landscape condition improvements with water quality improvements to show how landscape-based practices can protect water quality.
"We'll be able to at least have an informed discussion as to what is contributing to that condition,"Jaindl said.
To date, the department has no capability to show whether landscape improvements conducted by the agricultural community under largely voluntary basis have contributed to improvements in water quality, Jaindl said.
The Oregon Board of Agriculture unanimously approved the strategy.