HB 4116: Harmful Algal Bill (Updated 3/10/2022)

House Bill 4116, which was introduced in the 2022 Oregon legislative session, died in committee at the end of this bi-annual short session.

House Bill 4116 directs the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) to identify sources of pollutants and develop strategies to reduce pollutants in order to respond to harmful algal blooms. HB 4116 also directs the Oregon Health Authority to coordinate with DEQ to identify water sources that are susceptible to harmful algal blooms and develop a system for monitoring and testing water sources. The bill particularly seeks to protect municipal and domestic drinking water sources from algal blooms.

Oregon’s existing water quality framework involves multiple state agencies, including DEQ and the Oregon Department of Agriculture, both of which are tasked with maintaining water quality across the state. HB 4116 does not appear to account for those existing water quality programs and could create unnecessary duplication of the work the agencies are already doing. For example, HB 4116 creates additional responsibility within DEQ to “identify any point sources or nonpoint sources that contribute to the susceptibility of specific bodies of water to harmful algal blooms.” DEQ is also directed to work with persons to develop pollution reduction plans for those point sources and nonpoint sources that are identified. While the goal of preventing harmful algal blooms is critical, it is also important that any new water quality programs recognize the already existing and effective state water quality programs.

This article summarizes aspects of the law and does not constitute legal advice. For legal advice for your situation, you should contact an attorney.

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