DEQ Requiring Remedy for Campground and Holland Lake Lodge Wastewater Treatment Ponds

Department of Environmental Quality
  • Moira Davin
  • October 18 2023

HELENA—The Montana Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) is requiring sampling, installation of groundwater monitoring wells and plans for new liners at the wastewater treatment lagoon operated by a contractor on behalf of the United States Forest Service, that serves the Holland Lake campground and Holland Lake Lodge.  

DEQ’s action follows a site visit late last week, conducted in conjunction with the Forest Service and Missoula County. DEQ previously received a complaint about the wastewater ponds as well as an application for approval to add connections to the system. In response to the complaint and before approving additional connections, DEQ requested the Forest Service investigate the holding ponds and required the completion of a leakage study. 

The leakage study showed that the pond had leaked far in excess of the amount allowable in DEQ’s design standards. DEQ design standards allow up to six inches of leakage per year which is consistent with national industry standards for similar lagoons. DEQ staff calculated that the pond leaked approximately 19.5 inches over eight days, which was approximately 50,000 gallons consisting of mixed sewage in the pond and clean water that had been added to conduct the leakage test. This excessive leakage constitutes a discharge without a permit in violation of the Montana Water Quality Act.   

No new effluent is entering the ponds currently as the campground and dump station are closed. Waste from Holland Lake Lodge goes into a septic tank that will be valved off and pumped to keep it from entering the treatment lagoons until DEQ is satisfied that the issues have been corrected. DEQ is asking the Forest Service to continue monitoring the pond level, provide additional information, sample the ponds for total nitrogen and install new monitoring wells to determine impacts to groundwater. There are no residential drinking water wells down gradient of the ponds. DEQ is requiring a new engineering report and plans for the installation of new liners and leakage testing to be submitted to DEQ by Jan. 10, 2024. 

“DEQ is committed to ensuring proper management of wastewater systems throughout Montana,” said DEQ Water Quality Division Administrator Lindsey Krywaruchka. “In our oversight role, we work with operators to get systems into compliance and provide technical assistance to protect and maintain Montana’s environment.”  

DEQ will continue to work with the Forest Service to provide technical assistance and consultation throughout the remedy process.