In last weeks Eugene Weekly there was an interesting news brief entitled: Kids: Don’t Drink the Toxic Water.  After being in a class studying toxins for three months, it perked my interest for obvious reasons.  This article tells a story, like many we have heard before, of nonsensical applications of herbicides in rural communities that don’t have any say or control over the situation.

In this case, the incident occurred very close to Eugene.  45 minutes outside of Eugene on a quite winding road lays the small community of Triangle Lake.  In December of 2010, multiple doses of Imazapyr, a non-selective herbicide, were sprayed on a recent clear cut that surrounds the community elementary school.  This occurred despite many parental complains, knowing very well that the herbicide could potentially poison the schools only drinking well.  According to the news brief, studies have shown that Imazapyr “sinks deeper into the ground than other herbicides and has a long track record of polluting ground water and wells.”

Sure enough, on the first day that students returned to class after the herbicide was applied, a few complained of minor headaches and difficulty breathing.  In fact, Day Owen’s daughter, Ivana, had to go home early after spending nearly 45 minutes near an open adjacent window.  His daughter’s throat was so swollen that she had extreme difficulty breathing.

The spraying occurred less than 60 feet from the school.  Initial water samples taken this April show that the school’s well water does in fact have Imazapyr in it.  Though the levels are almost 1000 times lower than the government’s safety level, many parents and local citizens are still concerned.

A positive aspect of this story is how local citizens took matters into their own hands and acquired a testable water sample.  Grass roots, local involvement is often the best action for local or regional change.