Current Press Releases

Mar 07, 2014


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Chris Saeger
Directors Office

Paul Driscoll
Planning, Prevention and Assistance Division


DEQ Opens Public Hearing Period for Statewide Numeric Nutrient Standards for State Waters


Helena – A nutrient standards rulemaking package governing the state's surface waters is open for public comment through April 1, 2014, the Montana Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) and the Board of Environmental Review (BER) has announced. Montanans are invited to submit comments.

The two separate components are being advanced as instructed by the Legislature and are the result of collaboration with stakeholders in the public and the private sectors that began in 2008.

The BER is proposing criteria for maximum nitrogen and phosphorous levels in Montana's streams and rivers. By legislative mandate, the standards are accompanied by a second rulemaking component from DEQ that outlines how these nitrogen and phosphorous standards will be met over time.

The BER and DEQ will hold public hearings on the proposed adoption of rules March 24, 2014 in Room 111 of the Metcalf Building, 1520 East Sixth Avenue, Helena, Montana. The DEQ hearing will begin at 10:00 a.m., the BER hearing at 2:00 p.m., with an informal question and answer session on both rule packages from 9:00 a.m. to 10:00 a.m.

Nitrogen and phosphorous compounds are documented among the top ten most common types of pollution in Montana's flowing waters. They are a primary cause of excess algal growth, which can cause problems in streams, including low dissolved oxygen. While the proposed standards have been developed over the past 12 years and are scientifically derived, the numeric concentrations are low in relation to typical wastewater treatment technologies available today.

In an effort to meet the needs of various stakeholders, DEQ in 2008 reached out to its partners to explore a gradual implementation. The 2009 Legislature formalized this relationship and a Nutrient Work Group was established. A phased-in approach will reduce the economic burden on Montana citizens and businesses compared to meeting standards more immediately.

More than 20 meetings were held with the group, which comprised industries (forestry, oil and gas, railroad, mining), large and small municipalities, wastewater engineers, environmental advocacy groups, and public infrastructure financing agencies. The legislature later granted DEQ the ability to grant a variance from the standards to all communities.

"These nutrient standards will maintain the health of Montana’s rivers and streams in a way that recognizes the challenges Montana's communities are facing," DEQ Director Tracy Stone-Manning said. "Extensive public outreach over all these years has assured a practical and workable means of implementing the standards over time."

Concerned persons may submit data, views, or arguments either orally at the hearing, or in writing to the Department of Environmental Quality, 1520 East Sixth Avenue, P.O. Box 200901, Helena, Montana 59620-0901. Comments on the BER nutrient criteria component should be mailed c/o Elois Johnson or emailed before April 1, 2014 to: Comments on the DEQ nutrient standards variances should be mailed c/o Carrie Greeley or emailed before the April 1, 2014 deadline to:

For more information about the base numeric nutrient standards, the proposed rulemaking, and the statutes governing Montana water quality, see the Fact Sheet that accompanies this news release, or visit the website:

More information about the Board of Environmental Review is available at:


Paul Driscoll
Public Information Officer
DEQ Planning, Prevention and Assistance

Chris Saeger
Communications Director
Montana Department of Environmental Quality
Office: 406-444-2667
Mobile: 406-461-6183

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