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Current Projects: Agricultural Water Quality Monitoring

Sampling Location Map



The Illinois Valley Water Quality Monitoring Program was developed in late-2022 with a sense of urgency. The Illinois Valley Soil and Water Conservation District (IVSWCD)-produced Cannabis Industry Impacts to the Environmental Health of the Illinois Valley River Basin and Community Well-Being (Hall. 2022) report detailed the ecologically damaging effects that the illegal cannabis boom had on the Illinois Valley watershed – and, additionally, highlighted a clear lack of historical water quality data in the watershed. The upsurge of this unregulated industry reached a fever pitch in late-2021. The deterioration of water quality in the local rivers and streams through wanton water theft was worsened by ongoing severe drought conditions. The initial priorities of the Illinois Valley Water Quality Monitoring Program involved a specific focus on the effects of unregulated cannabis on agricultural water quality and a plan to resolve the paucity of water quality data currently available for the watershed through the consistent sampling of the local rivers and streams.

The IVSWCD has since broadened the lens of this program to concentrate on the collection of agricultural water quality data in the Illinois Valley as opposed to centering the focus on unregulated cannabis (an industry that is, due to its clandestine nature, notoriously difficult to monitor). The IVSWCD, thanks to financial support from both a private funder and the Oregon Department of Agriculture and in close partnership with the Illinois Valley Watershed Council, has now collected six months of agricultural water quality data and is taking steps forward in developing a robust dataset. This data, soon to be made publicly available, can be used for a wide range of utilities: from a conservation organization deciding where to focus project work restoring salmon habitat to an individual deciding where one can safely swim in the late summer. Surface water is sampled at 19 sites throughout the watershed by a dedicated team of water sampling technicians during the April-November water sampling season.