Approximately 20 people attended a public hearing Thursday night on a City of Hermiston request that the Department of Environmental Quality revise its standards for the West Division Main Canal.

The city plans to send effluent from a new wastewater treatment plant down the canal to be used for irrigation.

Hermiston has asked that DEQ revise standards for the canal. The city would agree to still meet standards for irrigation, livestock watering and water contact and recreation; but would no longer be required to meet standards for domestic water supplies, aquatic life and fish passage and spawning.

Fish screens at both ends of the canal prevent fish from entering the waterway.

Two people offered public testimony after a question and answer session with DEQ officials.

John Kirwan entered into the record a petition signed by 18 people opposing the proposed revisions and also questioned whether any consideration had been taken into account that children may drink the water.

Cathy Bissonette, whose property is the first on the canal, expressed a concern about the quality of water her property would receive under the city’s proposed plan, noting that river water dilution would likely not occur under some scenarios.

Public comment on the matter will continue through Nov. 15. Those interested in offering comment may send written correspondence to Don Butcher, DEQ Water Quality Division, 700 SE Emigrant Ave., Suite 330, Pendleton,?OR, 97801. Interested parties may also send a fax to 541-278-0168, or emails to waterqualitystandards@deq.state.or.us.

After public comment on the proposed revisions, the DEQ will send its recommendations to the Environmental Quality Commission for approval in mid-February 2012.

If approved there, the plan will go to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for approval in April.

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