Storm Water Corner: Missouri River Impairments

  • Published
  • By Cody Koontz
  • 341st Civil Engineer Squadron

Malmstrom Air Force Base discharges storm water through a network of underground pipes that come to daylight at the boundary fence.

From there, the water travels through a series of ditches and drains to the Missouri River between Rainbow Dam and Morony Dam.

This 9-mile stretch of the river has several pollutants of concern called impairments.

What are the impairments?
The impairments in this stretch of the Missouri River are arsenic, copper, polychlorinated biphenyls, temperature, turbidity and sedimentation (also known as siltation).

Identifying the impairments in a water body is the first step in a long process to establish discharge limits.

As community members, we should be aware of these pollutants and how our actions affect water quality.

Which impairments could I be contributing to?
The impairments to focus on are turbidity and siltation.

Turbidity and siltation are very similar to each other and both cause the water to be murky.

Turbidity can be caused by naturally decaying organic matter (i.e. leaves).

It, along with siltation, can also be caused by construction site runoff, washing vehicles outside and industrial operations.

Why does it matter?
Siltation and turbidity can adversely affect aquatic life.

Siltation can blanket the river bottom and inhibit the reproductive cycle of fish and other aquatic species.

In addition, siltation can increase soil deposits and accelerate riverbank erosion.

If nothing else, who wants to recreate in murky waters?

Remember, we are upstream from a majority of the Missouri River system. Pollutants we generate in our area have the potential to impact water quality from Fort Benton, Montana, all the way to the Gulf of Mexico.

If you have further questions regarding storm water or what Malmstrom is doing to reduce water pollution, please call 731-6155.