DEQ to Petition For Intervention on Behalf of EPA on Nutrient Litigation

HELENA – Department of Environmental Quality announced today (July 8, 2016)  it will petition to intervene on the Environmental Protection Agency’s behalf in a lawsuit challenging the EPA’s approval of the state’s implementation strategy for water quality standards for nutrients.  The suit was filed in federal district court in Great Falls by Upper Missouri River Waterkeeper.

“Developing water quality standards for nutrients was one of the most robust public involvement processes ever undertaken by DEQ.  It was a collaborative effort involving cities and towns, industry, public interest groups, and DEQ,” said DEQ Deputy Director George Mathieus.

Montana DEQ was one of the first states in the nation to develop scientifically based criteria to protect water quality with an achievable implementation strategy.

This case involves water quality standards for nitrogen and phosphorous in rivers and streams. These nutrients  are not toxins but rather cause growth of algae in streams.  EPA approved the standards and the implementation strategy, which involves a phased implementation of the standards.  The purpose of the phasing is to avoid economic hardship on cities, towns, and other dischargers by giving them time to develop economically and technologically feasible ways of complying with the standards.  In this lawsuit, Upper Missouri River Waterkeeper asks the court to nullify the phased implementation strategy.