DEQ Backlog Threatens Water Quality

By Beacon Staff

HELENA – A memo from the Legislative Audit Division indicates problems with issuing permits continue to pile up for the state Department of Environmental Quality.

The memo says a backlog of wastewater permits at the DEQ’s Water Protection Bureau is affecting the agency’s ability to protect Montana’s ground and surface water quality.

The memo says 52 percent of the 172 wastewater discharge permits issued by the DEQ are expired — but the permit holders are allowed to continue discharging wastewater until new permits are issued.

The Environmental Protection Agency says Montana’s backlog of permits is by far the worst in the six-state EPA Region 8, which includes Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, Wyoming, Colorado and Utah.