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Oregon Mega-dairy Uses Legal Loophole To Tap Endangered Aquifer


In 2016, the Lost Valley Dairy drilled three wells into an already-dwindling aquifer without telling the state of Oregon.

In 2016, the Lost Valley Dairy drilled three wells into an already-dwindling aquifer without telling the state of Oregon.

Molly J. Smith/Statesman Journal

A year after it opened, Oregon’s second-largest dairy has not secured rights to the nearly 1 million gallons of water per day it needs for its thousands of cows and to process milk.

Instead, Lost Valley Farm near Boardman moved ahead without the necessary permits, using a loophole in Oregon law to pull water out of an underground aquifer that’s been off limits to new wells for 42 years, alarming neighboring farmers who say their water supplies are now at risk.

Documents obtained by the Statesman Journal show Gov. Kate Brown, her staff and the directors of three state agencies knew the dairy would fall back on the loophole if a proposed water trade was challenged.

But with dairy owner Greg te Velde rushing to meet a deadline to receive bank financing and move his 8,000 cows — and with the promise of 150 jobs for rural Morrow County — state officials allowed the dairy to open anyway.

Read the full story at the Statesman Journal.

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