New Rule Finalized to Protect Lake Koocanusa from B.C. Mining Contaminants

New Rule Finalized to Protect Lake Koocanusa from B.C. Mining Contaminants

News Type: State Source: Flathead Beacon
Click here to read the article: https://flatheadbeacon.com/2020/12/12/new-rule-finalized-protect-lake-koocanusa-b-c-mining-contaminants/

Following years of rigorous scientific study by a multitude of state and federal agencies, Montana environmental regulators on Friday adopted a new water quality standard aimed at protecting Lake Koocanusa, the Kootenai River and their aquatic denizens from harmful contaminants leaching into the international waterway from upstream mines in British Columbia.

The Montana Department of Environmental Quality’s (DEQ) Board of Environmental Review (BER) initiated rulemaking in September to establish site-specific water quality standards for the Kootenai River and Lake Koocanusa, a reservoir spanning the U.S.-Canada border. The BER approved the protective criteria in a 5-1 vote Friday following lengthy public testimony that was overwhelmingly in favor of approval.

While the administrative process began only a few months ago, the proposed standards are a culmination of more than six years of collaboration with leading selenium experts and the Lake Koocanusa Monitoring and Research Working Group that included public meetings, data collection and a peer-reviewed modeling report, as well as input from DEQ, Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the U.S. Geological Survey, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, B.C. Ministry of Environment, and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.