Montana Public Radio

selenium

Lake Koocanusa
Darren Kirby (CC-BY-SA-3) https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/

British Columbia coal mining company Teck Resources has agreed to pay a $60 million fine for polluting rivers upstream of Lake Koocanusa.

Lake Koocanusa
Darren Kirby (CC-BY-SA-3) https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/

State environmental regulators Friday approved new standards for a heavy metal in Lake Koocanusa and the Kootenai River.

The Kootenai River near Libby, MT.
Corin Cates-Carney / Montana Public Radio

Montana environmental regulators took the first step last week to tighten pollution rules for toxins flowing into Lake Koocanusa and the Kootenai River. The new rules are aimed at stemming pollution coming from British Columbia coal mines.

Lake Koocanusa
Darren Kirby (CC-BY-SA-3) https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/

The U.S. Geological Survey has released a new modeling framework for collection and analysis of selenium data in Lake Koocanusa.

The framework is designed to organize data collected by different agencies using different protocols, with a long-term goal of helping managers develop a common water quality standard for selenium levels in Lake Koocanusa, which straddles the international border.

The Kootenai Bridge over Lake Koocanusa from the east bank.
David M. Carson (CC-BY-SA-4)

 Editor's note: We've corrected part of this story. Read below.

Coal mines in Canada have been sending a harmful heavy metal downstream to northwest Montana for years, but state, tribal, federal and Canadian agencies all have different standards for how much is too much. Those agencies are meeting this week, and speaking with the public to try to come up with common standards.