Water is a vital part for all life on the planet, and providing us access to food, clean drinking water, hygiene, and essentials to our ecosystems and wildlife.
$450+ BILLION DOLLAR
Outdoor recreation is a booming industry, bringing in over $450 billion dollars a year in the U.S, as of 2021. From boating, fishing, swimming, ecotourism, etc., healthy watersheds not only bring revenue to our economy, but also create over six million jobs nationwide.
SAVED PER YEAR
The City’s park and street trees provided a plethora of benefits to our community, from carbon sequestration, energy savings, and social and economic health. Another great benefit, is that they reduced storm water runoff by 12 million gallons per year, which is equivalent to over $132k dollars/year saved from being treated at the water and wastewater treatment plant.
In 2019, a bond was approved to invest in water infrastructure improvements for the City, total of $37.2 million dollars, for completion by 2024. Over 50% of the water systems were leaking at the time of the City acquiring the utility. The water main replacement program is already underway, along with other infrastructure improvements, to ensure the system is operating peak efficiency for customers.
Missoula County shifts between an abnormally dry to severe drought status, depending on locations of residents and time of the year. The City of Missoula, is currently moderately dry, at over 56%. Moderate drought classification states that there is some damage to crops/pastures, increased fire risk, low reservoirs/wells, and even water shortage. With climate change, this can worsen our status and put our community in increased danger.
STORMWATER INFILTRATION GALLERY
In 2017, a hydrodynamic separator was installed under Caras Park to pre-treat stormwater runoff from the downtown area, while removing large debris and pollutants. As of January 2022, an infiltration gallery was also installed to improve upon the current system. The function of the system is to treat the first half inch of runoff, which often contains the most contaminates (e.g., oil, grease and bacteria). The new system increases the water quality of the river, and the health safety of recreationists.
While our perception has stayed relatively consistent, our hotter weather is resulting in more precipitation in the form of rain rather than snow. Mountain snowpack is essential for part of the water cycle, allowing water to be stored for irrigation, drinking water, hydro-power, etc. Reduced snowpack also affects streams and rivers irrigation potential and decreases the ability of the planet to cool down, as the reflective snow typically reflects 80-90% of sun’s energy back into the atmosphere.
CLARK FORK COALITION
Established in 1985, the Clark Fork Coalition, as been the sounding ground for protecting for waters of the Clark Fark basin and ensuring that these wasters are clean and healthy for people and wildlife. They host volunteer events, workshops and cleanups to get community individuals and business engaged with protecting and preserving the Clark Fork basin.
MISSOULA VALLEY AQUIFER
Missoula Valley resident’s sole source of water is from the Missoula Valley Aquifer. This aquifer was created over 12,000 years ago, and local streams and the Clark Fork River recharge the aquifer with annual snowmelt and rainfall. The aquifer is susceptible to contamination and availability of drinking water. Missoula Water provides a guide on storm water pollution, household hazardous waste disposal, and conservation measures to keep our aquifer healthy and safe for future generations.
BY CONSERVING WATER TODAY
Water efficiency not only saves money, but it also sets up our future generations to have an ample and safe quality water. The process to treat water for our daily activities is very energy intensive. For example: running a faucet for five minutes is equivalent to a 60-W bulb running for 14 hours. The EPA has a great resource guide to allow individuals to make an impact for their community, by addressing leaking pipes/faucets, outdoor care, purchasing of water efficient equipment, and more.
HERBICIDE-FREE PARKS & TURFS
There are fifteen parks and nine turfs that are currently herbicide-fee. Herbicides are dangerous to our ground water and rivers. When applied they often leach or runoff into our grounds and rivers. The Parks & Recreation department has been working on eliminating the need of herbicides to treat our local parks and trails, and only spot treating the noxious weeds when needed, and they can be identified with a blue dye.
PROTECTION & PRESERVATION
The Clark Fork River is not only an iconic part of Missoula, but brings locals and tourists in to enjoy fishing, floating and a nice day on the beach. In 2021, the Clark Fork Ambassador Program was launched to educate river goers about safety tips, and river protection and preservation. Along with this useful information, mesh trash bags are also distributed to reduce and eliminate waste from human activity that can be harmful for the water.
HYBRID POPLAR TREE PROJECT
In 2014, 90,000 poplar trees were planted to receive the effluent water from the Water & Wastewater Treatment Plant. Effluent water is the treated wastewater from the plant that typically would be released back into the Clark Fork River. In the case of Missoula, this treated effluent is sent to the poplar trees to sequester additional phosphorous and nitrogen. Poplar trees have a typical life span of 30-50 years.
- Clark Fork Coalition - learn more about the protection and restoration of the Clark Fork basin
- HazWaste Days - drop of your household hazardous waste
- Herbicide-Free - learn more local parks that have low weed infestation and are herbicide-free
- Missoula Water-Quality Report - learn about vegetation management in Missoula city parks
- Water Bill Assistance - apply for water bill assistance to restore or prevent water shut-off
- Water Line Loan Program & Water Service Line Warranty Program - apply for these programs for system improvements to help avoid costly homeowner repairs
UNDERSTAND MONTANA'S DROUGHT RISK
Montana is updating its Drought Management Plan. Go to the new Montana Drought Plan Information HUB to learn more about this multi-agency, stakeholder-driven effort to make Montana more drought resilient.
WATERSHED EDUCATION NETWORK
Get involved locally! Watershed Education Network’s mission is to foster knowledge, awareness, and appreciation of watershed health through citizen science, youth and school engagement, and outreach to our communities.
KNOW YOUR WATER USAGE
Water from our aquifer is a finite resource and conservation benefits all who depend on it. Here is a handy guide that compares water consumption from everyday activities and provides tips for water conservation.