Benton County Groundwater Nitrate Community Action

Groundwater Nitrate Community Action Plan
The  Benton County Groundwater Nitrate Community Action Plan (PDF) includes the promotion and voluntary implementation of Best Management Practices to reduce nitrate loading, continuing monitoring of the groundwater, public health education, and coordination of these activities by Benton County, Benton-Franklin Health District, and Benton Conservation District.

A portion of Benton County was designated as part of the Lower Yakima Valley Groundwater Management Area (GWMA), a state-designation overseen by the Department of Ecology.  The GWMAs around the state are intended to address various groundwater issues regionally.  Benton County (BC), Benton-Franklin Health District (BFHD), and Benton Conservation District (BCD) all have specific roles and authorities for the protection of groundwater.  As such, these entities were members in the Lower Yakima Valley GWMA.  After participating for approximately two years, the Benton County contingent became concerned that the GWMA was dysfunctional and ineffective.  They expressed these concerns to the Board of County Commissioners.

The County formally requested withdrawal from the Lower Yakima Valley GWMA, saying they would prefer to work on the primary issue – groundwater nitrates – locally with their partners (Conservation District and Health District) throughout the entire county.  Ecology was at first reluctant but understood the situation and relented.  Benton County was completely removed from the Lower Yakima Valley GWMA with the understanding that the County would continue to address groundwater quality issues within the County.

To address Ecology’s request that Benton County continue to move forward on groundwater issues, the Conservation District took the lead and secured a grant from Ecology to study groundwater nitrates and create a plan to address any problems revealed in the findings.  Nitrate contamination comes primarily from irrigated land uses.

A five-task, three-year project was devised, built around two years of well sampling, analysis of the findings, and development of a stakeholder-based management plan.  The Benton County Groundwater Nitrate Community Action plan is the culmination of that effort.

The Benton Conservation District, Benton-Franklin Board of Health, and the Board of Benton County Commissioners have formally approved and adopted the plan on November 20, 2018.


      Benton County    620 Market Street    Prosser, Washington 99350
      Phone: (509) 786-5710 or (509) 783-1310
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