There are really only two seasons in Montana…winter and road construction. With the sun beginning to shine, flies hatching, and our rivers flowing high, it looks like we are officially in the latter!
We’ve been hard at work the last few months with several different projects. Here’s a quick overview of a few things on which we’ve been working:
- Successfully used the law to prevent a large-scale copper mine from being built in the headwaters of Montana’s Smith River. After several groups opposed the ill-conceived mining project by challenging with a lawsuit this Spring 2014, the project sponsor ended up pulling its permit, meaning that – for now – the Smith is safe from copper mining. We’ll keep you updated on this issue!
- Reviewed more than a half-dozen water quality discharge permits in order to make sure permit terms are protective of local water quality and fisheries.
- Submitted technical comments on the 2015 State Water Plan, resulting in the final plan including several of our key points including water quality impacts from climate change, subdivision development, and increased emphasis on agricultural pollution programs.
- Reviewed the 2014 Integrated Report, which is the state of Montana’s “report card” of waterway health, to ensure the state has accurately qualified the water quality challenges and successes in our river basin. The findings are compelling and speak powerfully about the need for Upper Missouri Waterkeeper and strong water quality advocacy. For instance, did you know that more than 75% of waterways within the Upper Missouri River Basin (that’s Southwest and West-Central Montana) have a federally-mandated “pollution diet” for one or more pollutants? No other organization is specifically focused on assessing these water quality improvement plans and making sure they are enforceable and contain measures that hold business, agriculture, and cities accountable for each doing their fair share to protect our water, fisheries, and quality of life!
- Reviewed pollution reduction plans for heavily developed and changing river valleys, in particular the Gallatin and Helena Valleys. Our reviews are finding problems both in the quality of the state’s pollution reduction programs, but also with the plans themselves. Suffice to say if Montana doesn’t have strong rules protecting water quality, nor meaningful plans that will actually, tangibly, remedy local water quality problems, we need to improve both our rules and our plans. And that is precisely what Upper Missouri Waterkeeper is doing!
- We’re also engaging with local government on pressing issues like stopping landfill pollution (leaking carcinogenic and toxic chemicals into groundwater), and figuring out ways to help local governments implement cost-effective, green technology to better improve and manage stormwater runoff. Long-term success and strong relationships are critical here as the Upper Missouri River Basin will experience incredible population growth and environmental stress over the next decade. 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!
If you care about clean water and strong communities in Southwest and West-Central Montana, please click here to join us!
Being a member means you will receive our newsletter, specific action alerts about ways you can engage in water issues happening in your backyard, and notice of fun events and community clean-up opportunities. Likewise, being a member means you recognize the unique value Upper Missouri Waterkeeper has in being the only water advocacy organization specifically dedicated to watchdogging decisionmaking that affects river and community health throughout Southwest and West-Central Montana! Don’t wait – JOIN US TODAY!