To submit to the governor and, as provided in 5-11-210, to the legislature a biennial report that includes:
- A summary of information gathered in fulfillment of its duties under this section;
- Information on monitoring activities within the Flathead basin concerning the condition of the basin's natural resources, with particular emphasis on Flathead Lake;
- The identification of land use and land development trends in the Flathead basin;
- Any recommendations the commission considers appropriate for fulfillment of its duties and for continued preservation of the Flathead basin in the present high quality of its aquatic resources; and
- An accounting of all money received and expended, by source and purpose, for the period since the last report;
- To meet at least semiannually within the Flathead basin, alternating the meeting site between the cities of Kalispell and Polson
- To achieve the duties described in the FBC's enabling legislation 75-7-304.
Flathead Basin Commission 2019/2020 Biennial Report
Water Quality-Nonpoint Source Pollution
Nonpoint Source (NPS) pollution comes from sources that are difficult to pinpoint and are spread through runoff, precipitation, drainage, atmospheric deposition, or seepage. The water transports natural and human-made pollutants, depositing them into lakes, rivers, wetlands, and aquifers. NPS pollution includes excess fertilizers, pesticides, oil, sediment, salts, as well as bacteria and nutrients from livestock and septic systems. These pollutants have significant harmful effects on drinking water supplies, recreation, fisheries and wildlife in the Flathead watershed. The FBC has prioritized nonpoint source pollution in our two-year work plan, with specific focus on septic leachate and stormwater.
The Flathead Basin Commission has created an onsite wastewater treatment committee to address water quality and public health concerns as they relate to septic leachate. Several studies have documented links to failing septic systems on both Flathead and Whitefish Lakes. The Committee is comprised of interested commissioners, partners, and citizens. All meetings are open to the public.
Goals/Objectives of FBC Onsite Wastewater Committee:
- Increase participant knowledge of existing standards and processes for onsite wastewater systems in Montana and in other jurisdictions.
- Participate in and make recommendations to the Local Government Interim Committee (via Flathead Basin Commission) for effective onsite wastewater treatment systems.
- Identify any knowledge gaps, data needs and/or barriers to onsite wastewater system processes, implementation and functionality.
- Explore options for increasing performance and sustainability of on-site wastewater treatment systems in the state, standards, incentives, and funding opportunities.
- Identify emerging solutions and appropriate compliance mechanisms.
- Develop and provide report with recommendations for approaches or actions related to onsite wastewater treatment systems to the Flathead Basin Commission for consideration.
- Encourage the Flathead Basin Commission to provide public forum on committee findings and recommendation(s).
- Seek more information on septage/land application requirements and practices. Ensure that any proposed recommendations acknowledge/address any potential septage issues.
The FBC, partnering with the City of Kalispell, initiated a series of projects assessing and addressing stormwater in the basin. We were able to secure an EPA grant and a Big Sky Watershed Corps (BSWC) member to lead the work. In the first phase of the project, our BSWC member developed a stormwater inventory for the basin, sampled during storm events for pollution, conducted outreach for a rain garden initiative and built a volunteer base for gathering data. See the final report from Phase I of the project here.