Safe Drinking Water

Where Do You Get Your Water?

More than 70% of Oregonians get some of their drinking water from wells, and 23% of Oregonians rely on privately owned wells as their primary source of water. Yet in many parts of the state, this water is polluted. Thousands of Oregonians may be unknowingly drinking water that could lead to cancer, miscarriage and other serious health risks.

The most common contaminants in well water are nitrate, bacteria, arsenic and pesticides. This contamination can come from failing septic tanks, fertilizers, livestock waste, and poorly constructed or maintained wells on a homeowner’s property or property nearby.
Well water contamination is common in many parts of our state, from coastal communities to the Willamette Valley, Rogue Valley, Central and Eastern Oregon. While water from public
systems is tested for safety, domestic well water may not be.
Oregonians need to know whether the water they are drinking is safe so they can act to protect their families. Our state needs to do a better job of monitoring groundwater quality and reducing sources of contamination.
HB 2404 the Safe Well Water Bill would: 
  • Ensure that more well owners test.
Offer support for local well testing education programs and financial assistance to help low-income property owners repair wells or install water treatment systems when necessary. Require certain landlords to test wells and share the test results with tenants.
  • Identify groundwater quality hot spots

Analyze well test results to identify areas with groundwater contamination problems and make sure the community is informed.

  • Reduce septic tank pollution

Increase inspections of old septic systems and provide funding to help low income homeowners repair or replace failing septic systems.

For more details, download our Safe Well Water Bill Fact Sheet 2017.

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Image of water sample being taken from drinking fountain

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10 Replies to "Safe Drinking Water"

  • Rob James
    April 19, 2016 (6:05 am)

    Is there a problem converting one of your wonderful images into a quilted wall hanging. There is no commercial advantage. It would be shown in the 2017 Sydney Quilt Show.

  • Ray Kinney
    April 26, 2016 (2:21 pm)

    Exactly what is desperately needed to be able to move into a more sane water quality accountability envisioned in the Clean Water Act, and the Clean Drinking Water Act. The INTENT of these acts is crucial for our future. The intent has not been honored. Legislative stone-walling has corrupted the intent of these acts. Look at the magnitude of the costs of just the Flint public health crisis, and begin to grasp the fiscal irresponsibility across the land, from similar hidden water quality degradation scenarios. Accurate water quality sampling, analysis, assessment, and informing of the public health providing system is essential. State and federal agency oversight has become compromised by legislative misconceptions and obstructions to favor political lobbies. Toxic contaminant pollution assessment and mitigation protections are not effective without the integrity of science guiding the process. The breakdown of this integrity, allows shoddy work to misinform the public health system across the nation. Too often, scientists, engineers, and other professional people will not speak up about failures they see, or opportunities for improvement because of the legislative bias to put the industry lobby biases ahead of public health. We need to honor those professionals that are aware that water quality assessment is essential and primary, and that a politic that disregards that essential primacy, in favor of false ‘profit’, is irresponsible and untenable for a more sane future.

  • Ray Kinney
    April 26, 2016 (2:24 pm)

    This is symptomatic of the culture of ‘don’t look, don’t tell’ anti-investigatory approaches to public health on the community and state levels… by the legislators, who are the regulators of the regulatory agencies responsible for water quality assessment. The legislator records need careful examination of how they have built up this lack of proper oversight. By controlling the purse-strings to restrict the agencies from any investigations that could be likely to show any new problems needing to be addressed, they had built irresponsible state oversight. This huge problem is complicated by the federal agencies also being similarly dysfunctional through devolution of their abilities by congressional irresponsibility. Corporate lobby of politicians has reached a malevolent state of affairs for creating a lack of toxic contaminant assessment, and public health risks go unrecognized and uncorrected until we must spend vast sums of money trying to correct the damage seen in Flint and Portland Oregon. Legislators have built the culture of lack of oversight.

  • Ray Kinney
    April 26, 2016 (2:25 pm)

    The state agencies are never going to respond appropriately for public health, because they are carefully regulated by the state legislators. The legislature sets the tone and the parameters that it demands that the agencies follow or suffer the consequences of punitive departmental cuts in funding. Agencies, staffed with the best intentioned people, want to do their mandated jobs for public health and environmental health assessment. However, they are prevented from doing essential sampling and assessment of pollution contaminants because the legislators refuse to fund any more scientific evaluation that might have any possible chance of discovering any new problems needing corrective action. The system is broken by the legislature. The legislature erroneously sees pointedly-investigative sampling and scientific assessment for environmental status and trends of contaminant pollution as being inherently politically and fiscally subversive. ODEQ and the Health Authority cannot do their mandated jobs under these conditions. This paradigm has long stymied the state responsibility to the public for SAVING money. If we use science to evaluate accurately the risks to public and wildlife we will SAVE far more money by noticing problems before having to go on paying over and over for them off into the future, which adds up to far more costs than the monitoring would have cost. We end up paying dearly with our declined health and declining wildlife such as salmon. Ultimately, each voter has the responsibility to hire legislators that have a much better education, and can see that we can SAVE vast sums of money by understanding how toxic pollution costs us dearly. Vote for people that can comprehend this great need for the State of Oregon.

  • Armando Gennaro
    June 6, 2016 (10:20 am)

    Please, is the image of water at, covered by copyright?

    • admin
      June 6, 2016 (5:58 pm)

      All images are copyright protected. The one that we’re using on that page is one that we licensed

  • Chantara
    November 23, 2016 (11:47 pm)

    Hello, my name is Chantara, and I’m starting a blog about my Cystic Fibrosis. Water and mucus are slowly filling up my lungs, and I feel this is a fitting picture for my blog. May I use this picture please?

    • admin
      November 28, 2016 (6:56 pm)

      Hi Chantara, this isn’t our photo, but one that we licensed so you’d have to contact the original holder of the copyright.

  • Watching Out for Oregon’s Well Water | Oregon Environmental Council
    May 2, 2019 (6:29 pm)

    […] Find out more about OEC’s work for Safe Well Water. […]