MISSOULA — The Montana Department of Environmental Quality is cracking down on stormwater discharges in Missoula beginning next year, saying improper stormwater discharge monitoring is ineffective and pollution monitoring and record keeping is lax.
Over the past year, Missoula has spent less than the other six largest cities in Montana to control pollutants that enter public waterways through stormwater runoff.
The city’s Public Works Department is considering the creation of a stormwater utility that would cost residential property owners $9 per year and commercial property owners $23 per year.
New regulations will require specific tasks, such as public outreach, extensive pollution monitoring and record keeping.
Public Works director John Wilson said the plan is to prohibit illegal discharges, and establish requirements on controlling and reducing stormwater pollutants. Wilson said there are about 50 outfalls that drain stormwater into the Clark Fork River and other waterways.
The Clark Fork is listed as an impaired body of water by the state because it has high levels of copper, iron, lead, nitrogen, phosphorous and sewage indicators.
The new rules would give the city power to regulate and enforce rules on construction activity and allow appeals and adjustments.
It also would fund the continuing construction, upgrades and maintenance of stormwater facilities, the Missoulian reported.
Peter Nielsen, supervisor of the Water Quality District, said the project has taken several years and it’s badly needed.
“Right now, if you dump something on the street, whether it’s a cigarette butt or coffee or a gallon of motor oil, it’s going to end up in the river in minutes if it rains,” he said.