More details have been released about what was in the water that spilled from the Yellowstone Club near Big Sky on March 3 when a sewage treatment pond ruptured and sent 35 million gallons of wastewater into the Gallatin River and a few of its tributaries. An analysis by the Department of Environmental Quality showed there were 18 pharmaceutical chemicals in the water, everything from acetaminophen to antibiotics. Although Montana doesn’t have a water standard for pharmaceuticals, it borrowed Minnesota’s. None of the chemicals were at levels that could harm humans but the effects on aquatic life are not well understood. Of more concern, according to the DEQ’s director, is all of the sediment dumped into the water as it scoured out a 10- to 12-foot deep gouge in the hillside. Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks will be monitoring brown trout spawning beds this fall to see if they’ve been affected.
For more on the story, including what other chemicals were in the water, see my story in this week’s Billings Gazette at http://bgz.tt/sqgjo
(Written by Brett French – Outdoors Editor for the Billings Gazette)