The Oregon Department of Transportation will spend ten and a half million dollars to keep chemicals from leaving highways and landing in rivers. But as Rob Manning reports, the money is being diverted from other environmental measures.
Much of the ten million will go to build roadside ditches and embankments to absorb chemicals. About a half million will put tracking systems in place to learn where road runoff is compromising water quality.
Money for it is coming out of O-Dot’s fish passage budget, so there will be less money to do other things that help fish – like build culverts.
The Northwest Environmental Defense Council helped push O-Dot to make the change, by threatening to sue under the federal Clean Water Act. But N-E-D-C director, Mark Riskedahl, isn’t thrilled at how agency officials are paying for the improvements.
Mark Riskedahl: “Well, they made the assessment that the incremental benefit of these dollars being spent in this fashion had greater, will have a greater environmental outcome.”
Riskedahl says state officials told him that they couldn’t legally get the money from another part of the O-Dot budget.