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Flathead Lake Pollution

The plan recently drafted by the Montana Department of Environmental Quality for pollution reduction in the north half of Flathead Lake merely relies on voluntary measures rather than good hard-nosed enforcement of pollution controls. Tough measures are necessary if we are to stop and reverse the steady decline of the water quality in the largest natural lake in Montana. The plan calls for a 25% reduction of non-point and point source pollution. Non-point sources of pollution are difficult to identify, as they come from fertilizers, pesticides, herbicides and other chemicals spread on the land by farmers, ranchers, sod growers, golf courses, and lake and stream-side lawns. Point sources of pollution have easily identifiable origins, such as sewage outflow pipes or factory and other industrial discharges.

The plan to save the lake seeks no new regulations or penalties for non-point sources of pollution. The Department of Environmental Quality said they have no regulatory authority over agriculture, golf course maintenance, or livestock feeding facilities, and is not seeking authority over these and other non-point pollution sources. Any reduction achieved will be by education and by local rules and practices voluntarily adopted by industry, agriculture and local government.

High quality water is a necessity in the Flathead River Basin. All of its network of streams, rivers, lakes, ponds, wetlands and riparian areas flow toward Flathead Lake-the most critical component of the system. It has been designated impaired under the Clean Water Act and its quality is declining. The Flathead Lake Biological Station has been monitoring the lake's quality and it is necessary they continue monitoring. ~

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