States have the primary responsibility for ensuring the safety of public water supplies within their borders. Each state develops a system to administer programs that have been enacted by Federal legislation. In Oregon, water quality issues are addressed by three state agencies; the Departments of Agriculture, Environmental Quality, and Human Services.

State Department of Agriculture 

Among the many goals of the Oregon Department of Agriculture is protection of the state’s natural resource base. Water is a crucial resource and is carefully protected through several programs administered by the Natural Resources Division.

Natural Resources Division

With a mission to conserve, protect, and develop natural resources on public and private lands, this Division promotes the viability of agriculture as a source of revenue within the state. Within its primary program areas, water quality, confined animal feeding operations (CAFO), and soil & water conservation districts (SWCD) relate directly to water protection issues.

Confined Animal Feeding Operations (CAFO).
Soil and Water Conservation Districts (SWCD).Water Quality Division.Oregon Association of Conservation Districts (OACD)
Oregon Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS):
Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW):
Oregon Watershed Enhancement Board (OWEB):
Oregon State University (OSU) Extension Service:
National Association of Conservation Districts (NACS:
Farm Service Agency (USDA-FSA):
United States Department of Agriculture (USDA):
Oregon Department of Forestry (ODF):
Oregon Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ):

Each state has its own agency to address environmental concerns. In Oregon, the DEQ is responsible for protecting and enhancing Oregon’s water and air quality, for cleaning up spills and releases of hazardous materials, and for managing disposal of wastes. The DEQ also has authority to operate federal environmental programs within the state, such as the Clean Water and Resource Conservation and Recovery Acts (CWA and RCRA).

Water Quality Division

The DEQ’s Water Quality Division administers programs in the areas of surface water protection, watershed management and also sets water quality standards. Regional divisions also maintain individual websites with local information. Water Quality Division 811 SW 6th, Portland Oregon 97204 800-452-4011.Surface Water Protection.

Runoff from impervious areas such as paved streets, parking lots, and building rooftops often contain pollutants that can affect water quality. This stormwater management is achieved through the issuance of permits.

National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES)Water Pollution Control Facilities (WPCF) is achieved with the DEQ Groundwater Protection Program. This program was established to provide technical assistance for communities to develop groundwater protection programs, which are generally more cost effective than implementing a contamination response. Read more at permits. The primary purpose of a WPCF permit is to prevent discharges to surface waters and to protect groundwater from contamination. Permits are issued for land irrigation with wastewater, wastewater lagoons, and onsite sewage disposal systems or for any discharge of wastewater to the ground; discharge to surface water is not allowed. This permit is also used to prevent nuisance conditions such as odors and mosquitoes. permits are required for stormwater discharges that leave a site through a “point source” and reach surface waters either directly or through storm drainage. A point source is a natural or human-made conveyance of water through pipes, culverts, ditches, or any other type of channel.

Watershed Management Water Quality Standards.

Additional water-quality projects and programs of the Oregon DEQ include

  • The Clean Water State Revolving Loan Fund finances water quality improvements.
  • Fact Sheets provide the public with guides for water quality, drinking water protection, groundwater, wastewater management, and stormwater permitting.
  • Nonpoint Source Pollution information and grants are administered for sources that pollute Oregon rivers, lakes and streams through runoff.
  • Underground Injection Control (UIC) program regulates any man-made structure that releases water below the ground, such as storm drains and sewers.
  • Wastewater System Operator Certification trains domestic wastewater system operators.
  • Water Quality Limited Stream list for plans to attain and maintain water quality standards including Total Maximum Daily Loads, (TMDLs).
  • Water Quality Standards are benchmarks used to determine whether Oregon rivers and lakes are adequate to support aquatic life, recreation, drinking, agricultural uses.

To contact Oregon DEQAccording to DEQ website data, approximately 75% of Oregon’s citizens get their drinking water from public water systems. While these systems are regulated by the Oregon Department of Human Services, (see below) the DEQ works to identify and protect watershed and groundwater recharge areas to reduce the risk of contamination, cut the cost of treatment, and minimize the risk of local water-borne illness. Water quality standards are set by the Oregon Drinking Water Protection Program. Through this program, the DEQ works with DHS to study water sources, maintain databases, maps, and inventory contaminants. You may contact the DEQ Drinking Water Protection Program Coordinator at (503) 229-5413, or visit the website at

Telephone: (503) 229-5696
Toll Free in Oregon: (800) 452-4011
TTY: (503) 229-6993
Fax: (503) 229-6124
E-mail: [email protected] Include your county when e-mailing DEQ.
Address: 811 SW Sixth Avenue, Portland, OR 97204-1390

Department of Human Services (DHS)

As the largest department in state government, the Department of Human Services has a mission of “helping people to become independent, healthy and safe.” Five strategies aimed at accomplishing these goals include helping low-income families achieve self-sufficiency, protecting vulnerable Oregonians from abuse and neglect, helping low-income families obtain needed health care, assisting seniors and people with disabilities live as independently as possible, and protecting public health.

Water Resources Department

The vision of the Water Resources Department is to assure sufficient and sustainable water supplies are available to meet current and future needs. The Department’s mission is to serve the public by practicing and promoting responsible water management through two key goals:

  1. To directly address Oregon’s water supply needs, and
  2. To restore and protect streamflows and watersheds in order to ensure the long-term sustainability of Oregon’s ecosystems, economy, and quality of life.

By law, all surface and ground water in Oregon belongs to the public. The Water Resources Department is the state agency charged with administration of the laws governing surface and ground water resources. The Department’s core functions are to protect existing water rights, facilitate voluntary streamflow restoration, increase the understanding of the demands on the state’s water resources, provide accurate and accessible water resource data, and facilitate water supply solutions.

The Oregon Watershed Enhancement Board (OWEB) is a state agency led by a policy oversight board tasked to maintain healthy watersheds and natural habitats that support thriving communities and strong economies. OWEB’s programs support Oregon’s efforts to restore salmon runs, improve water quality, and strengthen ecosystems that are critical to healthy watersheds and sustainable communities. OWEB administers a grant program funded by the Oregon Lottery to support efforts by Oregonians seeking to create and maintain healthy watersheds.Resources

Special Districts Association of Oregon (SDAO)
State of Oregon: Bureau of Labor and Industries (BOLI):
Oregon State Legislatur:
Water Resources Department:
Oregon Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ):
Oregon Department of Justice:
Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA)
Oregon Employment Department
Oregon Department of State Lands (DSL)
Oregon State Police (OSP)
Oregon Department of Revenue (DOR)

As part of its public health protection goal, DHS administers the Drinking Water Program to assure safe drinking water for Oregon residents. The program focuses resources on the areas of highest public health benefit and promotes voluntary compliance with drinking water standards.

The Drinking Water Program

  • Reducing and preventing contamination of public drinking water supplies
  • Improving water system operation and management through training and technical assistance programs for water system operators, managers, engineers, and lab staff
  • Improving adequacy, reliability, and viability of public water systems
  • Increasing public knowledge, participation, and support for safe drinking water
  • Implementing Environmental Protection Agency drinking water standards and state drinking water regulations.

The Drinking Water Advisory Committee (DWAC)Groundwater Protection Program

  • Groundwater Training Manual
  • Aquifer Sensitivity (Susceptibility)
  • Groundwater Under the Direct Influence of Surface Water (GWUDI)
  • Natural Factors Influencing the Composition of Groundwater
  • GWUDI Flow Chart and Explanation
  • Protocol for the Evaluation of Hydraulic Connection
  • Water Quality Assessment Data Sheet
  • Using Source Water Assessments in Land Use Planning

Contact the Oregon State DHS Drinking Water Program at:
800 NE Oregon St. Suite 611, Portland OR 97232-2162.
Phone: 971-673-0405; Fax: 971-673-0457
Admin. Hours 8am-5pm M-F