Protecting Urban Waterways

In 2015/16 we are working with a diverse stakeholder group and the Montana Dept. of Environmental Quality towards improving Montana’s stormwater permit for municipal and urban areas.

Stormwater runoff is generated when precipitation from rain and snowmelt events flows over land or impervious surfaces and does not percolate into the ground. As the runoff flows over the land or impervious surfaces (paved streets, parking lots, and building rooftops), it accumulates debris, chemicals, sediment or other pollutants that could adversely affect water quality if the runoff is discharged untreated. The primary method to control stormwater discharges is the use of best management practices (BMPs).

In Montana, most stormwater discharges are considered point sources and require coverage under an MPDES permit whose conditions designate important pollution prevention measures and technologies that, together, prevent local waterway degradation. MT DEQ has recognized that stormwater pollution is a leading water pollution source in Montana and, with the rapid growth of many river valley populations, the time is ripe for the state to improve its management of this sector.

Currently, Montana’s municipal separate storm sewer system permit is woefully outdated legally, scientifically, and practically. Thus the need for a revamped and improved permit that best accounts for the duty of urban regions to do their part in reducing pollution to our local waterways.

Upper Missouri Waterkeeper’s role over the next two years is to remind stakeholders – and DEQ – of legal baseline pollution reduction requirements and ensure such are incorporated in a final permit, as well as to be a voice encouraging important stakeholder discussions of meaningful alternative technologies and local infrastructure solutions that can help increase precipitation capture, infiltration, and reduce pollution.

Stormwater Discharges