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Agricultural Water Quality Regulations

Watch: Agricultural Water Quality and YOU

In 1993 Oregon’s legislature passed the Agricultural Water Quality Management Act.  It requires the Oregon Department of Agriculture (ODA) to prevent and control water pollution from agricultural activities.

As a result, ODA worked with local advisory committees to develop Water Quality Management Area Plans and Rules through the state.  ODA originally approved the Inland Rogue Area Plan and Rules in 2001 that were revised in 2012.

What is the Plan?
The Inland Rogue Area Plan guides landowners on how to prevent pollution. The Plan’s goal is to get all people engaged in agricultural activities to maintain and improve water quality while preserving and enhancing economic viability.

The Area Plan does not tell anyone how to farm, ranch, or otherwise use the natural resources.  Rather, it includes recommended practices that a landowner can choose from.  The practices can help them meet their business and conservation goals, while also preventing water pollution.

What are the regulations?
Agricultural water quality regulations (Area Rules) allow landowners flexibility in how they protect water quality.  Area Rules describe characteristics that landowners must achieve on agricultural lands, rather then practices they must implement.

The local advisory committee helped ODA develop the Area Rules specifically for the Inland Rogue area.  These Rules address water quality objectives identified in the Area Plan.

The following is a summary of regulations that apply to the Inland Rogue area:

  • There shall be no visible evidence of erosion resulting from agricultural management in a location where erosion has contributed or will contribute sediment to waters of the state.
  • Agricultural management of riparian areas shall not impede the development and maintenance of adequate riparian vegetation to control water pollution.
  • Runoff of surface irrigation that enters waters of the state shall not exceed water quality standards.
  • Landowner actions may not cause pollution to any waters of the state or place any wastes in a location where such wastes are likely to escape or be carried into the waters of the state by any means.

Do the plan and regulations apply to me?
The Area Plan and rules apply to all lands in current agricultural use, regardless of size, and those lying idle, or on which management has been deferred. It also applies to agricultural operations within incorporated city boundaries and urban growth boundaries.

What can I do?
Evaluate your agricultural activities and try to determine whether they might:

  1. Pollute streams, canals and groundwater, and
  2. Protect growth of appropriate vegetation along streams.

Then change any problem practices to ensure compliance with the Area Rules.

Who can help me?
The Area Plan describes water quality concerns, lists sources of help, and includes recommended practices. You can view this document and others with the links below.

The Jackson, Josephine, and Illinois Valley Soil and Water Conservation Districts (SWCDs) are the primary source of landowner assistance to address water quality concerns. SWCDs are non-regulatory and can help with technical assistance, information, and direct you to additional sources of help. Services are free, voluntary and confidential.

For more information on rules, plan, and how to file a water quality complaint visit the ODA website.

Download information about the plan:

2022 Inland Rogue Area Plan

Inland Rogue Executive Summary 2022

Inland Rogue Administrative Rules