Montana's 5-year Water Pollution Management Plan Approved
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) recently approved Montana’s five-year plan to protect the State’s water quality from nonpoint source pollution. The Montana Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) updated its plan that addresses the types of water pollution associated with a broad range of land use activities, including urban stormwater runoff, agricultural and forestry practices, and road building and maintenance. The plan outlines objectives, strategies, and actions for the next five years.
Implementation of the plan relies on statewide partnerships and local efforts by all Montanans. The plan focuses on voluntary implementation of best management practices such as managing livestock grazing to protect riparian areas along streams or reducing runoff and erosion from unpaved roads.
“This remains a key piece of improving water quality in Montana,” says Tom Livers, Montana DEQ Director. “As Montanans we all can play a role in significantly decreasing nonpoint source pollution and protecting our healthy environment.”
Nonpoint source pollution can include:
-Excess fertilizers, manure, herbicides, and insecticides from agriculture lands and residential areas
-Oil, grease, and toxic chemicals from urban runoff
-Sediment from improperly managed construction sites, crop and forest lands, and eroding streambanks
-Salt from irrigation practices and acid drainages from abandoned mines
-Bacteria and nutrients from livestock, pet wastes, and faulty septic systems
-Hydromodification (channelization and dams) and habitat alteration which can cause increased water temperatures, impact natural flow cycles, and degrade natural wildlife habitat
Nonpoint source pollution is typically transported by direct surface runoff or subsurface movement into groundwater, wetlands, creeks, streams, lakes, and reservoirs. Nonpoint source pollution is different than point sources, which convey pollutants to surface water by pipes, ditches, or outfalls and are controlled by discharge permits issued by Montana DEQ.
Following early successes in controlling point source pollution, the Federal Clean Water Act was amended to require States to develop plans to control nonpoint sources. Cost-share grants to States were formulated to address a variety of control activities, contingent upon USEPA approval of each State’s nonpoint source management plan.
To access Montana’s Nonpoint Source Management Program Plan, click here.