Local politics, the county, and the world, as viewed by Tammy Maygra
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Check Your Water

The news has reported that many of Oregon's public schools have lead in their water. St. Helens school district 502 has had lead problems as well. District 502 has reported that they have done two hundred tests and only eight rarely used water fixtures contained lead. How remarkable is this not so back in the late 1990's.

Way back in the late 1990's when I was working to keep Knife River from getting the old fairground property and turning 496 acres of prime light industrial land including a deep water port into a 496 acre 200ft deep useless hole .The pit would be filled naturally with contaminated water from the adjacent chemical plant. The contamination was done through leaching of ground water and through contaminates which had traveled down into the1st or top aquifer. The top aquifer then traveled North, West, and East because of the unique geology of this particular area.

After educating myself on nitrites and nitrates, water soluble effect and the properties of dry weather and wet weather's influence on the dispatch of these contaminates on grasses and other vegetation. Including, the traveling speed and the distance that these potentially hazardous chemicals would have on the environment and the local community's water systems. The contaminates had traveled as far as Tide Creek which is about 3-4 miles from the source. And also the impact to the various fresh water springs that was as close as ¼ mile from the source which was the chemical plant.

After researching nitrites and nitrates, learning about reverse osmosis systems like the
PUD has so they can have potable water --- cause the contaminates had migrated away from the chemical plant and contaminated all the water around the area. I thought it would be a good idea to check the water tests for municipal water systems. So I checked with the state water resource department and collected all the data on the Deer Island system which served the Deer Island area and the Deer Island School which at this time was used for the Alternative School.

What I found was shocking--- the reports were not good, the system was out of compliance on required testing schedules and then the tests that were done came back negatively. There were high amounts of E.coli contamination, nitrite, nitrate contamination along with high levels of lead .The lead contamination was above the
90 percentile! The person who at that time owned the system did nothing to correct the problems and the State of Oregon had written this individual several times and threatened fines if the problems were not corrected but the state never followed through with the $50 thousand in fines they could have collected nor would they fine the guy even after I threw a fit. Thankfully the guy sold out to a good local company which fixed all the problems.


I then went to St. Helens school District to see what their tests read, after all with a 90 percentile of lead in the Deer Island system someone needed to take charge and fix the problem as there were pregnant girls attending the Alternative school. As I talked to the person from the school district that was in charge of testing the water at the school, I was reassured that everything was up to snuff. Was I in for a big surprise…. The St. Helens school district had tested all the schools in the district
EXCEPT--Deer Island and Yankton… not had they not tested these two schools for the year that I was asking about they had not tested these two schools for 15 YEARS! I immediately went to these two schools and informed them of the health hazards. The teachers threw a fit as well and bottled water was brought in. There was never any public information given out from the district or any apology it was swept under the rug and business as usual was carried out. I was called a trouble maker and was not welcome at the district for quite some time.

To make a long story short--- lead in our drinking water is more of a problem than we might think. The state mandates testing but to what degree do they protect us? if they knowingly turn their heads away if there is a problem and let it go while people are drinking the contaminated water. In my opinion as soon as a test comes back negative with contaminates that are high enough to be harmful then action should immediately be taken.

The situation of the Deer Island and Yankton schools should have been reported to every parent and the school district should have found out why these two schools were left out of testing for 15 years. It was simple to discover I did in a few minutes after reading the reports. Each school was listed and each school had a test report, no report should have raised a red flag but then I personally do not believe that the person who was supposed to read the report ever did because they were shocked when I discovered it.

Get involved start investigating you will be surprised what you might find.


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