By Alex Miller, Bozeman Daily Chronicle
A district court has ruled in favor of environmental groups that aimed to have a water discharge permit near the Gallatin River reexamined.
Upper Missouri Waterkeeper and the Montana Environmental Information Center sued the Montana Department of Environmental Quality last year over the renewal of a water pollutant control system permit for the Lazy J South subdivision in Big Sky.
Judge Peter Ohman issued an order Monday siding with the environmental groups.
The order required DEQ to perform a new assessment of the permit to fully address criteria outlined in state law. That criteria required that the agency determine whether the permit would cause “nonsignificant changes” in existing water quality, and if there are “cumulative impacts.”
If the first criteria was met, DEQ had the discretion to not further review the permit under the second criteria established in the law. That’s what DEQ did, but the court’s order means the agency now has to examine the cumulative impacts in a new environmental analysis.
Moira Davin, a spokesperson for the state agency, said in an email that DEQ was still reviewing the order, and did not provide comment.
The lawsuit alleged that DEQ’s renewal of the permit was illegal because the agency did not consider the cumulative impact of another wastewater discharge source into a river that “is already unduly stressed by nutrient pollution.”