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Montana to begin monitoring pesticide runoff

Graphic: Montana news from Montana Public Radio

The Flathead Biological Station is launching the state’s largest effort to monitor pesticides in streams and rivers. The station will provide the first data on levels of these toxic chemicals in our waterways.

Bio Station researcher Rachel Malison will monitor for pesticides in streams and rivers throughout 12 counties in the Columbia River Basin.

“There’s been no program present in the state of Montana to monitor for pesticides. So, we don’t even know how bad the problem is,” Malison said.

Pesticides pose a risk to insects, aquatic plant life and fish. They can also impact the health of those recreating in polluted waterways or people who drink from private wells.

Data from Washington and Oregon show that pesticides are present in waterways there. Malison also expects that to be the case in Montana.

Monitoring funded by a federal grant could begin this fall and will run for five years. Malison says her team will also put on workshops and provide education materials that can help landowners reduce pesticide use and prevent runoff into streams and rivers.

Aaron graduated from the University of Minnesota School of Journalism in 2015 after interning at Minnesota Public Radio. He landed his first reporting gig in Wrangell, Alaska where he enjoyed the remote Alaskan lifestyle and eventually moved back to the road system as the KBBI News Director in Homer, Alaska. He joined the MTPR team in 2019. Aaron now reports on all things in northwest Montana and statewide health care.
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