By Jack Reaney, Explore Big Sky
A district court judge this month ordered the Montana Department of Environmental Quality to reassess a water discharge permit for the Lazy J South subdivision’s wastewater treatment facility in Big Sky.
Lazy J South is a commercial and residential development located on U.S. Highway 191, less than half a mile from the Gallatin River.
The case was opened on July 16, 2021, when the Upper Missouri Waterkeeper and Montana Environmental Information Center filed a joint complaint alleging that the permit “is void and illegal because the DEQ did not conduct proper or thorough review of the effect of the wastewater, including nitrogen charges, on state water,” according to the district court ruling. The permit—to discharge from a level two wastewater treatment system—was first issued in 2006 to Bostwick Properties and renewed in 2013 to expire in 2017.
Bostwick received a renewed permit with DEQ approval in 2017, and on May 21, 2021, DEQ renewed the permit again and transferred it to Lazy J.
According to a Nov. 16 press release from the MEIC, permitted sewage discharges have contaminated local groundwater in connection to the Gallatin River’s consecutive years of nuisance algal blooms.