Monday, November 6, 2017

Water Protection Efforts on the Flathead Indian Reservation

Mike Stermitz’s career as an environmental inspector has seen him carry out projects in more than 10 states on behalf of private- and public-sector organizations. Mike Stermitz also has spent time working to protect the water of the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes (CSKT), an Indian nation whose members live on the Flathead Indian Reservation in western Montana. 

The CSKT have engaged in efforts to protect the quality of the water in the Flathead Indian Reservation (FIR) since receiving approval for “treatment as a state” under the Clean Water Act in 1989. Today, CSKT maintains both Water Pollution Control and Water Quality Standards programs.

These programs strive to protect the three river drainages that flow entirely or in part through FIR. Together, the drainages account for numerous groundwater aquifers, wetlands, streams, and lakes, including Flathead Lake, a significant portion of which sits within the reservation’s borders. In focusing on maintaining the integrity of the drainages, CSKT aims to ensure access to clean water for members of the Indian nation and for the myriad wildlife that call FIR home.