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Atrazine questions remain

Staff writer

Professor Philip Barnes’s presentation Thursday about water quality in Marion Reservoir left some attendees with different impressions.

About 98 pounds of atrazine washed into the reservoir in 2008, Barnes said.

It seems like a lot, he said, but it is relatively low considering how much atrazine is used in the watershed.

Marion Mayor Mary Olson attended the meeting.

“I was glad to hear that I maybe voted in the right way for keeping atrazine out of our water,” she said.

In a previous interview, Barnes said Marion and Hillsboro’s decision to join a class-action lawsuit against atrazine’s manufacturer sent the wrong message to farmers.

“That’s not what I took away from the meeting,” Olson said, adding nonetheless: “It’s true we didn’t hear both sides of the story when we voted on that.”

Farmers benefit from keeping fertilizer and herbicides from washing off their fields, Barnes said.

“If atrazine gets in your drinking water, the farmer isn’t getting crop protection,” he said.

Olson stood by the council’s decision to join the lawsuit.

“They haven’t proven over a long period of time that this might not cause some health problems,” she said.

Hillsboro City Council member Byron McCarty is his council’s representative to Marion Watershed Restoration and Protection Strategy. The meeting was his first since being selected. He voted against joining the class-action lawsuit.

“I really don’t think I made the wrong decision,” McCarty said.

He still would like to have a neutral party meet with the council because he didn’t think all the facts were presented when the city voted to join the suit.

McCarty was surprised to hear how much farmers are doing to prevent runoff.

“I personally feel the farmers are doing the best they can,” he said.

Olson and McCarty both said they were pleased with local conservation efforts.

“It just reinforced for me that we have good people out there watching out for our water,” Olson said. “WRAPS is doing what it’s supposed to do.”

Last modified June 25, 2009

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