Recommended Actions Status

Recommended Actions

The Groundwater Advisory Committee (GWAC) developed a list of recommended actions (Appendix J). These actions were prioritized from the list of alternatives presented in Appendix I, by a voting process from GWAC members. GWAC members placed a value or -3 to +3 with each recommendation, and the results were totaled. The list of recommendations can be found in the approved Lower Yakima Valley Groundwater Management Area (GWMA) Program in Volume I - Narrative. There was a total of 55 recommendations that received a total value of 1 or more on the vote, with another 9 receiving a total value of zero or less.

Below is a list of completed actions and current active actions as of September 2022.

 

Completed Actions

1. Install Ambient Groundwater Monitoring Wells. (42 – Yakima County)
 
This item is complete. Department of Ecology and the county continue to coordinate with regard to
 these installed ambient groundwater monitoring wells. Information here: 
https://www.yakimacounty.us/2161/Monitoring-Wells. Also, Initial Ambient Monitoring Well Report-June 2019.

2. Collect data from ambient groundwater monitoring wells (42 – Yakima Health District)

This item is ongoing with quarterly sampling until Summer 2023 and then will transition to annual sampling. The Washington State Dept. of Ecology is currently operating the groundwater monitoring for the LYVGWMA.

3. Establish a Lead Agency responsible for implementation and oversight of the GWMA Groundwater
 Management Plan and acquisition of stable funding to support their activities. (41 – Yakima County)
 
This item is complete, with the South Yakima Conservation District (SYCD) serving as lead agency, with support from the implementation committee.

4. Publish and distribute homeowner guide on how to maintain septic systems (40 – YHD)
 
This item is complete. This information resides on the GWMA website in English and Spanish:

https://www.yakimacounty.us/DocumentCenter/View/13590/EPA2002b-homeowners-septic-guide?bidId=

https://www.yakimacounty.us/DocumentCenter/View/13372/What-You-Can-Do_7-things-Well-Water-Health-Final?bidId=

16. Contract with USGS to collect data from water well system per 2017. (28 – Yakima County)
 
This item is complete.

17. Encourage municipalities within the GWMA to extend municipal sewer systems within urban
 growth areas and retire residential on-site septic system (ROSS) and large on-site septic system (LOSS); alternatively, extend public water systems. Encourage
 connection of residences within urban growth zones to sewer systems extended by municipalities.
 (26 – Yakima County).
 
This item is complete. Jurisdictions within the GWMA were sent letters from Yakima County which included funding opportunities, information on extending services and Growth Management Act. A copy of these recent correspondences encouraging municipalities within the GWMA to extend municipal sewer systems is available online:

https://www.yakimacounty.us/DocumentCenter/View/32210/61722-GWMA-Letter---City-of-Mabton

https://www.yakimacounty.us/DocumentCenter/View/32209/61722-GWMA-Letter---City-of-Grandview

https://www.yakimacounty.us/DocumentCenter/View/32211/61722-GWMA-Letter---City-of-Sunnyside

https://www.yakimacounty.us/DocumentCenter/View/32212/61722-GWMA-Letter---City-of-Granger

https://www.yakimacounty.us/DocumentCenter/View/32213/61722-GWMA-Letter---City-of-Zillah

36. Require new developments outside towns to address potential impacts on
 groundwater quality (19 – YHD)

 
This is built into Yakima Health District (YHD) standard septic permitting and well site approval processes.

49. Amend the Dairy Nutrient Management Act to extend Washington State Department of Agriculture’s (WSDA's) authority to manure application on properties other than those owned by dairies, provide more complete disclosure of Nutrient Management Plans. (8 – WSDA)

This item is complete.

 

Active Actions

7. Develop a post-GWAC agricultural producer education and outreach campaign. (36 – Washington Conservation Corps (WCC), Washington State University (WSU) Extension Service, WSDA, Ecology, Yakima County, SYCD, and agriculture associations)

8. Establish or maintain ongoing, extended funding necessary for the Yakima County Department of
 Public Services and the Yakima Health District to actively participate in water quality improvement,
 testing, monitoring, scientific data analysis, and infrastructure development. (35 – Ecology, Yakima
 County and Yakima Health District).
 
Yakima County, Yakima Health District, and Department of Ecology, has secured state funding in the past, which helped with many items required in the development of the GWMA Program. The GWMA Implementation Committee continues to look for new funding sources and grants.

SYCD plans to hold at least one workshop, field day, or similar outreach event annually for local landowners and producers.

YHD, working with partner agencies, has successfully participated in securing state funding in the past, for the Nitrate Treatment Pilot Program, GWMA Program Planning, and early implementation activities. The Implementation Committee continues to look for new funding sources and grants.

Long term component for infrastructure, with outreach to connect landowners.  Long term well upgrade/improvement. Pilot program for potable water.

Yakima Health District continues conducting targeted door-to-door outreach. Educating people on nitrate levels in wells. Utilizing the nitrate testing strips to test people’s drinking water. If they are above the level, the YHD will recommend to them they utilize the drinking water service the YHD will be providing to them. 

9. Monitor nitrate concentrations of irrigation water at headgates. (35 – Roza-SVID Joint Board of Control) 

Report nitrate concentrations annually to Department of Ecology. Years of data on the head gates and data on the drains have been collected.

10. Design and implement pilot studies focusing on innovative farm techniques which reduce nitrogen loading to crops and monitor results.

Ongoing since recommendations were in place, with an increases since 2020 with additional resources.

Ecology recently received legislative funds to identify land use practices that reduce nitrate loading to groundwater.  This is a cooperative effort with WSDA and SYCD to identify practices.  Then develop test plots with these practices using deep soil sampling and groundwater monitoring to evaluate their effectiveness.  Additionally there is an education and outreach element after the study is completed.  This implements recommended actions #10, #7, #23 and #24.

11. Provide financial assistance for implementation of Irrigation Management Plans. (32 – NRCS and Ecology) 

Ongoing - Doing a lot of irrigation water management planning. SYCD receives funding from the WSCC through Natural Resource Investment and Implementation programs for Irrigation water projects.

12. Study potential nitrate contamination attributable to improperly operated septic systems. (32 – Yakima Health District)

Ongoing - Built in to the current assessment process for new systems. Next need for this is canvassing need for existing.

13. Encourage advanced irrigation management. Integrate management of synthetic/organic fertilizers and application of water. (31 – SYCD, WSDA and WSU Extension Service)

Deemed feasible, but needs a lot of resources.   Soil health Initiative helps address this, soil moisture monitoring, irrigation scheduling, etc. Part of the task is to go back to WSU and get additional thoughts.  SYCD uses funding from the WSCC to implement BMPs while partnering with NRCS to implement larger Irrigation conversions, CNMPs, Nutrient Management planning and various other supporting BMPs.

14. Educate producers regarding application of nutrients at agronomic rate. (30 – South Yakima Conservation District, Washington Department of Agriculture, Washington State University, Private Industry and Producers)

Ongoing – A large amount of information sent to producers.  Education and Outreach to landowners and the community will continue through Technical assistance, workshops, community involvement and field day events  etc.  WSDA discussing internally over a 5-year period of time.

15. Develop a bilingual, health-risk education and outreach campaign. (28 – DOH, Yakima Health
 District and Yakima County)
 
Yakima County, the GWAC, and many of the participants in the
 GWMA Program have a long history of education and outreach related to nitrates in the
 groundwater. Since 2012, one of the main education and outreach focus of the GWAC was working
 to identify residents impacted by nitrate contamination and providing notice regarding potential
 exposure to elevated nitrate concentrations and associated health risks.

Further action items are currently in progress. The campaign is being developed with data collected from our recent focus groups, which will inform a targeted outreach effort to be implemented in partnership with DOH and Yakima County.

A list of some of the public education and outreach provided as part of the GWAC initiatives can be found within the GWMA Program document. An overview of the education and outreach plan developed as part of the GWAC is available in Volume II of the GWMA Program document. Sample education and outreach documents are also available in Volume III of the GWMA Program document.

18. Identify and support opportunities, including education research institutions for private, public, and industry investment in technology and management of fertilizers and manures, including separation of solid and liquid wastes. (26 – WCC)

Ongoing – there has been work done by WSU. The Department of Agriculture has put money into this as well. A lot of work done by the conservation district in supporting the dairy and livestock industry. 

19. Operate a mobile irrigation lab to assess the efficiency of current or advised irrigation practices, either through a singular lab or component parts. (25 – WSU)

Ongoing.

20. Continue research of water management with application of agricultural nutrients. (25 – WSU, SYCD)

Ongoing.

21. Inform farmers of those BMPs prioritized by Livestock/CAFO and Irrigated Agriculture Work Groups to reflect greatest effectiveness in nitrate reduction. (25 – WSDA and SYCD)

Ongoing – Ecology is working on this.

22. Continue to provide underlying soils information to individual livestock operations, provide same for all irrigated agriculture. (25 – WSDA and SYCD)

Ongoing – Deep soil sampling. Working hard to implement soil health initiative. Doing full assessments in the first two feet. 

24. Establish a multi-year Deep Soil Sampling Program where farmers subscribe for a duration with pre-determined fiscal remuneration for completed sampling. Cost share with farmer. Farmer to provide checklist indicating performance with BMPs. Test throughout growing year, in order to observe effects of fertilization throughout year. Share data with public. (25 – SYCD)

Ongoing. Pilot started, 4-year campaigns will commence and include Spring and Fall, field sampling.

26. Analyze the trends of nitrate data contained within reports required by NPDES and SWD permits. (23 – Ecology)

Ecology is currently scheduled to complete the analysis and report back to the implementation committee by March of 2023.

32. Adopt and Implement an Adaptive Management Plan. (22 – Yakima County).
 
Yakima County continues to coordinate as part of the Implementation Committee on adaptive
 management

41. Identify and support opportunities, including education research institutions for private, public and industry investment in technology and management of fertilizers and manures, including separation of solid and liquid wastes. (17 – WSDA)

Ongoing – very active with dairy operations

46. Provide funding for municipalities to replace aging sewer system infrastructure and ensure proper
 system maintenance to reduce nitrate leaching. (11 – Municipalities)
 
This is an ongoing item for all municipalities within the GWMA. Yakima County currently underway with repairs to the Buena Wastewater Treatment plant within the GWMA area. 

47. Develop an urban and hobby agriculturalist education and outreach campaign. (10 – Yakima
 County)
 
Ongoing. Plan to include this within the community engagement plan.

48. Contract with USGS to do particle tracking model study to indicate where groundwater moves faster (permeability). (9 – Yakima County)

Ongoing – hope to get a good chunk of this done this year. Ecology will want to reach out through the planning/implementing process as well.

50. Provide assistance to local departments of health regarding the regulation of agricultural composting operations. (7 – Ecology) 

Ongoing. Ecology recently lost head of composting operations, but in the near future when replacement is hired, will continue this item.

51. Document and publish regulatory compliance for dairies within the GWMA that are completing and implementing Dairy Nutrient Management Plans (DNMP). (7 – WSDA)

Ongoing.

Pending Actions

The other recommended actions are in various levels of development but have not been actively started for a variety of reasons. These reasons include, but aren’t limited to, actions dependent on funding currently not available, actions predicated on other recommendation being completed first, further need for evaluation of alternatives, and current staff availability limitations.