Aug 01, 2017

EPA Protects Montana Drinking Water

$2 million grant protects & restores watersheds, streams, groundwater

Funding protects Montana water quality

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has awarded $2,057,000 to the Montana Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ) to help protect human health and the environment through two Nonpoint Source Program Clean Water Act Section 319 grants. These grants are given to states to implement environmental programs that address nonpoint source pollution in surface and groundwater in order to meet and maintain water quality standards. 

“I look forward to seeing the Montana Department of Environmental Quality use this funding to protect the quality of Montana’s treasured lakes, streams and rivers,” said Montana Congressman Greg Gianforte. “These grants will also help ensure Montanans, particularly those in our rural communities, have access to healthier drinking water.”

“Providing these funds to Montana emphasizes the importance of EPA partnering with states to help address their unique and critical environmental challenges,” said EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt. “EPA is making investments like this grant to help empower states who know best how to protect their natural resources, and grow their economy while solving real environmental problems in local communities.”

Under this program, a total of 10 proposals were selected for funding that include watershed planning and implementation projects. The program works through a set of overarching principles that emphasize voluntary and incentive-based participation, locally led projects, partnerships, measurable water quality improvement, and effective and efficient program administration. 

Nonpoint sources of pollution continue to be recognized as one of the nation’s largest remaining cause of surface water quality impairments. The effects of nonpoint source pollution can be seen within the lakes, streams and rivers of Montana. Nonpoint source pollutants causing the majority of Montana’s surface water quality impairments are pathogens, sediment and nutrients.

Nonpoint source pollution encompasses a range of sources that are not always subject to federal or state regulation. These sources include agricultural runoff, unpermitted urban runoff, abandoned mine drainage, failing onsite disposal systems, and pollution caused by changes to natural stream channels.

Congress enacted Section 319 of the Clean Water Act in 1987, establishing a national program to control nonpoint sources of water pollution. Through Section 319, the EPA provides states, territories, and tribes with guidance and grant funding to implement their nonpoint source programs and to support local watershed projects to improve water quality. Collectively this work has restored more than 6,000 miles of streams and more than 164,000 acres of lakes since 2006. Hundreds of additional projects are underway across the country.