Protect the waters, natural resources, and environment of Flathead Basin by support the Commission.

Our Mission

To protect the existing high quality of the Flathead Lake aquatic environment; the waters that flow into, out of, or are tributary to the Lake and; the natural resources and environment of the Flathead Basin.

About the Flathead Basin Commission

The Flathead Basin Commission (FBC) was created in 1983 by the Montana Legislature to monitor and protect water quality and the natural resources in one of the State's most important watersheds. The FBC is a uniquely structured non-regulatory organization that works to accomplish its mandate in a consensus-building manner, stressing education, cooperation, broadly based community involvement, partnerships with agencies and nonprofit groups, and the voluntary participation of Basin residents. Consistent with the duties of the Commission as stated in the establishing statute the Commission considers its role in the Basin to:

  • Coordinate water quality protection and monitoring activities
  • Working with our partners, ensure that water quality, economic, land use and natural resource data is gathered, analyzed, interpreted and disseminated to the public and responsible agencies.
  • Facilitate policies and actions that have a positive result on water quality and natural resources.
  • Provide leadership in making the case for Basin water quality and protection of its natural resource.

The twenty-three member Commission represents a cross-section of citizens and local, state, tribal, federal and provincial agency representatives who strive to identify the Basin's water quality and natural resources problems and work collectively to implement the most effective solutions. The Agency members of the Commission are prescribed in statute; the Governor appointed members are selected for four-year staggered terms.

The Flathead Basin Commission has become a model of successful citizen and inter-agency cooperation in a geographically vast and ecologically diverse watershed characterized by its overall pristine character, international dimension, and multi-jurisdictional nature.

Outline of the Flathead Basin in Montana

Enabling Legislation

Flathead Basin Commission 2019/2020 Biennial Report

Water Quality-Nonpoint Source Pollution

The Flathead Basin is home to large clear lakes, clean cold rivers, and extensive groundwater resources that support our economy, promote robust ecological benefits and environmental services, and provide vast recreational opportunities to our community. Nonpoint Source (NPS) pollution is the leading cause of water quality issues in the United States and Montana. NPS pollution originates 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 adopted a strategic plan in 2019 that has prioritized addressing nonpoint source pollution issues impacting water quality in the Flathead Basin.

Septic Leachate

While nonpoint source pollution includes many different divergent sources, septic leachate is one that has been well-documented in the Flathead Basin dating back to the 1970s. Septic systems offer a unique risk to surface and groundwaters given the difficulty to identify poorly functioning and failed systems. Septic systems that are properly planned, designed, sited, installed, operated, and maintained can achieve satisfactory wastewater treatment. However, systems that are sited in densities that exceed the treatment capacity of regional soils and systems that are outdated or poorly designed, installed, operated, or maintained can pollute water resources.

The Flathead Basin Commission formed the Onsite Wastewater Treatment Committee to address water quality and public health concerns as they relate to septic leachate. The Committee is comprised of interested commissioners, partners, and concerned citizens. All meetings are open to the public.

Goals/Objectives of FBC Onsite Wastewater Committee:

In 2020, the committee identified the need to better understand the scope and extent of the septic leachate problem in the Flathead Basin and provide potential solutions to address the issue. River Design Group, Inc. (RDG) was contracted to use existing public spatial data to map the risk of septic systems. The two primary goals were to model the existing risk from current septic systems and develop a tool to predict the effectiveness of future septic systems across the basin.

This project has increased the overall understanding and spatial component of the physical and existing septic risk factors within the Flathead Basin. Overall, these models will allow the public, planners, regulators, and policymakers to engage in science-based decision-making to protect the Flathead Basin's unique and iconic water resources. The final Onsite Wastewater Risk Analysis GIS Technical Report is in the process of being peer reviewed and can be viewed in DRAFT form at the link below. The goal of the mapping project, once vetted by external peer reviewers, will be to workshop it with local government's elected officials and planning and health departments, and ultimately to have a publicly accessible "hub" comprised of the GIS map and associated layers here on the FBC website.

View the report here.

Stormwater Projects

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, the summary of Phase I here and the final report from Phase II of the project here.

Upcoming Meetings

Commission Consolidation Bill
Informational Webinar:

Monday November 21, 2022 at 1:00pm (MST)
Click Here to join webinar
Passcode: 019273

Commission Members & Staff

  • EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE
  • GOVERNOR APPOINTED
  • EX OFFICIO
  • STAFF
Rich Janssen, Flathead Basin Commision Chair

Rich Janssen
Chair

Casey Lewis, Flathead Basin Commision Member

Casey Lewis
Vice Chair

Kathy Olsen, Montana Dept. of Natural Resources and Conservation

Kathy Olsen
DNRC Rep

Jasmine Courville, Flathead Basin Commision Member

Jasmine Courville Brown

Kurt Steele, Flathead Basin Commision Member

Kurt Steele

Jeff Mow, Flathead Basin Commision Member

Jeff Mow

Jim Simpson, Flathead Basin Commision Member

Jim Simpson

Jack Potter, Flathead Basin Commision Member

Jack Potter

Randy Brodehl, Flathead Basin Commision Member

Randy Brodehl

Lech Naumovich, Flathead Basin Commision Member

Lech Naumovich

Mike Freeman, Flathead Basin Commision Member

Mike Freeman

Brian Hughes, Flathead Basin Commision Member

Brian Hughes

Sandy Beder-Miller, Flathead Basin Commision Member

Sandy Beder-Miller

Steve Stanley, Flathead Basin Commision Member

Steve Stanley

Mark Bostrom, Flathead Basin Commision Member

Mark Bostrom
DNRC

Myla Kelly, Flathead Basin Commision Member

Myla Kelly
DEQ

Jim Williams, Flathead Basin Commision Member

Jim Williams
FWP

Mark D. Rellar, Flathead Basin Commision Member

Mark D. Reller
BPA

Bill Dykes, Flathead Basin Commision Member

Bill Dykes
BOR

Peter Brumm, Flathead Basin Commision Member

Peter Brumm
EPA

Kate Wilson, Flathead Basin Administrator

Kate Wilson
FBC Administrator

Cassidy Bender, Commission Coordinator Flathead Basin

Cassidy Bender
FBC Coordinator

Emilie Henry, Nonpoint Source Coordinator

Emilie Henry
Nonpoint Source Coordinator