Ladies of Literacy
__________ ECOLOGY __________
The Montana Legislature and the Whitefish County Water and Sewer District have allocated $93,710 to Department of Environmental Quality efforts to conduct a follow-up study at Whitefish Lake.
The project will revisit a 1982-1983 detailed study conducted by Thomas Golnar and Jack Stanford of the UM Flathead Lake Biological Station, which established a critical water quality baseline for the lake and the greater watershed. The report of the study concluded: The lake must be protected from additional nutrient loading if present conditions are to be maintained or improved.
In 1985 a second research project, Investigation of Septic Contaminated Groundwater Seepage as a Nutrient Source to Whitefish Lake, was conducted by the biological station and the water and sewer district. This study concentrated on the effects of domestic septic outflows on the lake.
The research studies in the 1980s resulted in Environmental Protection Agency support of a grant program to construct central wastewater collection lines that eliminated hundreds of septic drainfields around the lake. An equally important result of the research was public education about the lakes reaction to nutrient inputs and the probable causes of water quality degradation.
Since the earlier studies, however, only sporadic tests for elements such as fecal coliform bacteria have been accomplished, and limited nutrient analyses have been coordinated. Many concerned lakeshore residents also have been monitoring water clarity. But funding has not been available to conduct continuous monitoring of the lake.
Stanford will supervise the new research project. Sampling began Oct. 1 and will continue through Sept. 30, 2002.
The public is invited to attend meetings, to be announced, at which researchers will report the studys progress and results.