Friday, December 2, 2011

Montana Basin Eyes Contamination Sources

By: Duane Craig

The Flathead Basin in Montana is a complex and sensitive watershed that may be seeing threats from septic systems, pharmaceuticals, personal care products and volatile and semi-volatile organic compounds.

Phase 1 assessment shows water contamination

Seventeen wells in the Evergreen area tested positive for VOCs and also had traces of chloroform, arsenic and uranium, according to a report in Hungry Horse As Phase I of an assessment of threats to the basin from increased human populations, the initial study by the University of Montana's Flathead Biological Station also found acetaminophen, sunscreen, bug spray and caffeine in the tested wells.

The wells the samples came from are relatively shallow and therefore are more prone to contamination from surface sources, noted the Flathead City-County Health Department and the Montana Department of Environmental Quality in reinforcing the idea that the county's water is safe for drinking.

There will be a Phase II study done to look at similar pollution characteristics with greater scrutiny. Lower levels of contaminants will be detectable because of the lab used for the specimen analysis. The underground water's connection to the river is particularly mysterious so the studies are expected to help reveal some of those nuances.

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