HELENA – The Environmental Protection Agency recently approved Montana’s five-year plan to protect the state’s water quality from the effects of a wide variety of diffuse pollutants, collectively known as nonpoint source pollution.
The Department of Environmental Quality 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 of 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,” said DEQ Director Tom Livers.
“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
- Atmospheric deposition
- 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 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 EPA approval of each state’s nonpoint source management plan.
To access Montana’s Nonpoint Source Management Program Plan click on this link: http://deq.mt.gov/Water/WPB/Nonpoint-Source-Program