On April 22, 2009, Clark County’s Board of Health (also known as the Clark County Commissioners) presented community awards to various organizations and individuals that have worked toward improving public health and safety. RNA was awarded a certificate of honorable mention as a “Community organization advocating for health promotion, disease prevention, and social justice through water quality advocacy and monitoring and improving neighborhood livability.” A total of ten community awards were given, including medical and dental caregivers, and health educators.
RNA has volunteered over the past 8 years to address environmental contamination and public health risks caused by failing septic systems. Local waterbodies such as Burnt Bridge Creek and Vancouver Lake fail state water quality standards for fecal coliform bacteria that is found in raw sewage. RNA’s work with the Clark County Health Department includes assistance in updating septic tank codes for maintenance and operations, and plans to map, inventory and inspect septic tanks throughout the urban landscape.
RNA contends municipal stormwater systems can carry septic tank wastes that discharge directly to surface water. A settlement agreement with the City of Vancouver helped establish stormwater outfall screening, septic tank inventories and water quality monitoring for Burnt Bridge Creek and the Columbia River in an effort to improve water quality for these troubled urban waterbodies. Septic tank waste also causes groundwater contamination. Local residents are entirely dependent upon groundwater as the source of our public potable water supply. RNA was successful in achieving federal protection for the Troutdale Aquifer System as a Sole Source Aquifer, one that is vulnerable to contamination.
For several years, RNA members have conducted water quality monitoring and have reported data to the Washington State Department of Ecology and to Oregon’s Department of Environmental Quality. RNA has also sponsored various public education Water Legacy fairs to help raise awareness of water quality concerns and conservation efforts, and various members have been trained as water quality stewards.
As a working partner with Columbia Riverkeeper, RNA has been active in various local pollution problems such as the PCB hotspots in the Columbia River caused by the former Alcoa aluminum smelter at the Port of Vancouver, groundwater contamination caused by military ordnance at Camp Bonneville in East Vancouver, and PCB contamination at Vancouver Lake.