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Missoula Valley Water Quality District
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Missoula Valley Water Quality District

Department: Water Quality District
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Water Quality District - Nutrients

Algae need nutrients to grow, and when there are too many nutrients, excessive algae grow in surface water, fouling our beautiful rivers, lakes and streams, and negatively impacting fish and other aquatic life.

The Clark Fork River system has had excessive nutrient levels, and has been protected by a Voluntary Nutrient Reduction Program (VNRP) to control nutrient pollution. Under this program, major entities that contribute nutrient pollution to the Clark Fork River signed an agreement to reduce nutrient loads.

Nutrients can also contaminate drinking water, and certain forms are suspected of contributing to some human diseases.

Two of the main plant nutrients, nitrogen and phosphorus, are major components of sewage, and are also released to the environment from many other human activities.

You can make a difference by following some of these tips to minimize the amount of nutrients you contribute.

Fertilize Wisely

Use only the required amount of fertilizer, and fertilize at the most effective times. The County Extension Office has information on fertilizing in Missoula.
Click on this link for information.

Maintain Your Septic System

Septic systems and soil under the drainfields remove some of the nutrients from sewage before the effluent discharges into groundwater and surface water. When a septic system is not functioning properly wastewater is not properly treated, greatly increasing the amount of nutrients, bacteria and other pollutants flowing to groundwater and surface water.

Have your system inspected and serviced every three years at a minimum.

The Missoula Wastewater Treatment Plant has recently upgraded its treatment system to include biological nutrient removal. This should significantly reduce the nutrients discharged from wastewater received through the municipal sewer system.

EPA's new Septic Smart website offers lots of information on how to maintain your septic system to save money and protect water quality.

     EPA Septic Smart banner

Click for Missoula County Nitrate and Arsenic Map

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