“Municipal pollution” means pollution arising from land-use related to population centers. Upper Missouri Waterkeeper works on two-fronts to ensure population growth, local business, and strong communities go hand-in-hand with clean water.
First, we review point-source discharge permits in large population centers to ensure that permit terms are protective of local water quality and community health. This means we look at the rules and pollution prevention plans governing facilities like wastewater treatment systems, city stormwater management and industrial operations, as well as permits and pollution prevention plans for large and small size construction, wetlands, or natural resource development activities. We also investigate pollution issues affecting community health and/or water resources that relate to landfill or legacy pollution sites like abandoned mines, gravel pits, etc.
Second, we advocate for sustainable development policies at the local and regional level, including Comprehensive Growth Plans for counties, science-based riparian buffer regulations for new development, and the use of green infrastructure in stormwater management among others. Because local decisionmakers are often overwhelmed with diverse issues, we serve a unique, valuable role as a water specialist that can provide regulatory and practical expertise identifying cost and environmentally conscious planning without the expense of hiring a consulting firm.
We also partner with local business to emphasize the strong economic value behind protecting and preserving clean water, rather than allowing water quality to degrade and, in turn, pay for expensive remediation projects. No other organization is specifically focused on performing these interrelated water advocacy roles for communities of Southwest and West-Central Montana.
The value of our unique approach will become increasingly clear as the Upper Missouri River Basin continues to grow. Consider these statistics:
- the Upper Missouri Basin has 31% of Montana’s population
- nearly 23 % of Montana’s land area
- almost half of Montana’s irrigated agricultural lands (more than 1,000,000 acres), and
- accounts for 46% of all fishing in the state
- Current estimates put the population in the Basin at about 313,000, and somewhere between 365,000 and 415,400 by 2035!
The time is ripe for stakeholders, local business and decisionmakers to start equally balancing growth and development with strong environmental protections that help sustain and protect Southwest and West-Central Montana communities’ vibrant traditions and way of life.