U.S. News reports that Montana environmental regulators adopted a new water quality standard aimed at protecting Lake Koocanusa, the Kootenai River, and their aquatic denizens from harmful contaminants leaching into the international waterway from the upstream mines in British Columbia. The rising levels of selenium entering Lake Koocanusa have been traced to mining operations in B.C.’s Elk Valley. The current selenium standard for water bodies was established in 1987 at 5 micrograms per liter. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency developed updated recommended national criteria at a value of 1.5 micrograms per liter for lakes and reservoirs and 3.1 micrograms per liter for rivers. The Montana Department of Environment Quality opted to pursue a site-specific standard for Lake Koocanusa and the Kootenai River, with the Board of Environmental Review approving a standard of 0.8 micrograms per liter on the lake and 3.1 micrograms per liter on the river.
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