- Associated Press - Friday, September 18, 2015

PENDLETON, Ore. (AP) - Among the trash that accumulates along the banks of the Umatilla River in Pendleton was a type of litter unique to the Round-Up - horse dung.

Multiple reporters for the East Oregonian spotted Round-Up volunteers clearing horse dung from the Bedford Bridge and disposing of it by shoveling it over the railings and into the river.

Along the banks of the river Wednesday, numerous pieces of horse dung could be seen in and around the river.

Carl Culham, the Round-Up director of communications, first denied that rodeo volunteers were disposing of horse manure that way. Later, he said some were not holding themselves to the Round-Up’s standards and future volunteers would be specifically advised to collect excrement and dispose of it at the grounds.

Culham said all animal dung collected inside and outside the grounds should be stockpiled and transported to a landfill.

Upon being informed of what was happening, John Byers, Oregon Department of Agriculture Agricultural Water Quality program manager, said he had an inspector investigate the matter.

After speaking with the employees and volunteers from the city and the Round-Up Association, who share the responsibility of cleaning the bridge, the inspector advised both to halt the practice.

Reporters did not witness city employees dumping horse manure into the river.

Regardless of who was doing the disposal, Byers said he hoped the word got out to cease doing it.

“You can’t impede waters in this state, and horse manure qualifies as an impediment,” he said.

Local officials were not happy at the thought of horse waste being shoveled into the river.

“It’s a sad thing and that should not happen,” said John Staldine, the director of the Umatilla Basin Watershed Council.

Staldine said the presence of horse feces in the water could raise the risk of E. Coli and cause other sanitation issues, especially among people who use the Umatilla River for recreational purposes.

He said he would look into the matter and advise the Round-Up against the practice.

Pendleton Public Works Director Bob Patterson was similarly displeased.

“That’s not cool,” he said.

Although he was concerned that horse manure could add ammonia to the river’s water during a period of low flow, Patterson said the city’s drinking water would not be affected because it was drawn further upstream.

Patterson said the city would discuss the issue with the rodeo.

___

Information from: East Oregonian, https://www.eastoregonian.com


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