Montana Department of Environmental Quality About Us Permitting & Operator Assistance Public Participation

Nonpoint Source Program

Program Overview

Nonpoint source pollution typically comes from diffuse sources, such as grazing, timber harvest, abandoned mine lands, irrigation, recreation, and septic systems. It includes a wide range of pollutants and conditions, including nutrients (nitrogen and phosphorus), heavy metals, sediment, loss of riparian habitat, streamflow alteration, and temperature changes. Montana’s goal is to provide a clean and healthy environment by protecting and restoring water quality from the harmful effects of nonpoint source pollution. We believe this can best be achieved through voluntary implementation of land, soil, and water conservation practices.

Nonpoint source Contacts

Section Supervisor
Hannah Riedl (406) 444-0549

Water Quality Specialist
Mark Ockey (406) 444-5351

Water Quality Specialist
Meagan Gilmore (406) 755-8981

Senior Wetland Specialist
Stephen Carpenedo  (406) 444-3527

Water Quality Specialist
Torie Haraldson (406) 556-4511 

Education and Outreach Specialist
Tiffany Lyden (406) 444-3576 

319 Project Funding

Through the 319 Project Program, DEQ provides approximately $1,000,000 each year to local watershed groups, conservation districts, educational institutions, and government entities to design and implement on-the-ground projects that reduce and prevent nonpoint source pollution. Increasingly, DEQ is focusing funding on projects that will restore natural processes (e.g., stream channel migration, floodplain connectivity, native riparian revegetation) and are likely to result in measurable improvements in water quality.

Q&A - FY2024 319 Grant Projects Program

As DEQ staff respond to questions from the public, we frequently provide answers that could apply to a broad spectrum of projects.  This Q&A document is intended to make these answers more accessible to other applicants who may have similar questions.

Fiscal Year 2024 Funding Breakdown

Funding Source: The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) under Section 319(h) of the Federal Clean Water Act.

Total Funding Available: Approximately $1,000,000.

Funding Distribution: 

$500K to projects located within the Lower Gallatin Focus Watershed.

$500K, plus any unallocated funds from the Focus Watershed, to on-the-ground projects and mini-grant programs elsewhere in Montana. 

Focus Watershed Projects and General On-the-Ground Projects
Recommended Range for Funding Requests: $10,000-$250,000

Application Form: On-the-Ground Projects

Mini-Grant Programs
Recommended Range for Funding Requests: $30,000-$60,000

Application Form: Mini-Grant Projects

Cost Share: A 40 percent cost share (match) is required. The match must be from non-federal sources (state, local, private), and may include in-kind donations of time and resources contributed to completion of the project. Use the following formula to calculate the amount of non-federal match required for your project: ((319 dollars requested)/.60) – (319 dollars requested) = required non-federal match


Applicant Eligibility:

Applicants must meet the following criteria:

  • Be a governmental entity or a nonprofit organization. A governmental entity is a local, state, or federal organization that has been established and authorized by law. Nonprofit organizations are identified as having a tax-exempt declaration of 501(c)(3) from the Internal Revenue Service.
  • Be registered with the Montana Secretary of State to do business in the state of Montana.
  • Have the necessary liability insurance, and be in compliance with the Workers Compensation Act.

Project Eligibility

Projects must meet the following minimum requirements:

  • Address nonpoint source pollution.
  • Implement actions consistent with recommendations in the current Montana Nonpoint Source Management Plan.
  • Implement activities or practices identified in a DEQ-accepted Watershed Restoration Plan (exception made for mini-grants)
  • Address impairments identified on Montana’s 2020 List of Impaired Waters. In some instances, projects on streams that are not listed as impaired may be acceptable. These projects must reduce pollutant loading to an impaired, downstream receiving water OR protect existing uses from becoming impaired.
  • Be completable within three years. (Note: In some instances, sponsors may be encouraged to apply for funding for design and permitting, and then come back and apply for funding for actual construction in a subsequent year.)
  • Projects addressing stream flow through improved water use efficiency must include reasonable assurance that unused water will remain in the stream (e.g., through a change of use to instream flow, or a signed commitment from the water right holder).
  • Projects involving grazing management (e.g., riparian fencing, creation of riparian pastures) must include a grazing management plan as a task deliverable.
  • Projects involving riparian or wetland buffer creation must have a minimum buffer width of 35 feet, as measured from the water’s edge. If the buffer must be less than 35 feet in some places to accommodate bridges, water gaps or other infrastructure, the buffer should be made proportionately wider in other areas.

The following activities are NOT eligible for funding:

  • Development of a Watershed Restoration Plan (WRP).
  • Activities required as a condition of a point source (MPDES) discharge permit.
  • Watershed characterization studies.
  • Pollutant source identification.
  • Water quality monitoring, except for monitoring the effectiveness of a current, 319-funded project.
  • Statewide education and outreach campaigns.
  • Projects whose primary purpose is to protect infrastructure from natural stream channel migration.
  • Use of non-native plant species in restoration projects.
  • Rip-rap, except in instances where it is necessary to protect a new bridge or culvert designed to restore aquatic organism passage.
  • Projects designed to address violations of state and federal law (e.g., projects that stem from a 310 violation or an Army Corps violation).
  • Projects that result in a net loss of wetlands or wetland function.


Timeline for application process.
Date Event
Monday, 8/7/2023 Issue of FY2024 Call for Applications
Until Wednesday, 10/4/2023 at 5:00 pm DEQ will ensure staff availability for answering questions, reviewing draft applications, and providing other assistance.
Friday, 10/6/2023, 5:00 pm Signed applications and all attachments due to DEQ by 5:00 pm
Thursday, 11/2/2023 Agency Review Panel discussion
Friday, 11/17/2023, 5:00 pm Notice of Intent to Award is sent to project sponsors
11/20/2023 through 1/31/2024 Contract development
August 2024 Funding becomes available

Annual Call for Applications

All project sponsors must thoroughly read the Call for Applications. All project sponsors are encouraged to contact a member of the DEQ Nonpoint Source staff prior to submitting their application (see “Contacts” tab below). If contact is made soon enough, we are often available to review draft applications, provide pre-application site visits, and offer suggestions to help improve the competitiveness of your application.

Fiscal Year 2024 Applications

Funding Request Summary Table

Lower Gallatin Focus Watershed

Mini-Grant Programs


Guidance for Funding Recipients (e.g., status/final reports)

319 Reporting Guidance:

Additional Resources

Capacity and Planning Funding

The Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) and the Nonpoint Source and Wetlands Section is seeking to build local capacity for addressing nonpoint source pollution in areas that don’t currently have a DEQ-accepted Watershed Restoration Plan. We are soliciting requests for funding for capacity building and project planning projects in these areas. Projects must lead to reduction or prevention of nonpoint source pollution and must implement actions consistent with an existing state or tribal Nonpoint Source Management Plan.

The intent for these funds is to increase organizational capacity, aid in watershed planning, and/or lead to a grant application(s) for larger on-the-ground project activities that align with new EPA guidance.

Funding Source: USEPA §319 federal funds

Total Funding Available: $80,000

Individual Awards: Recommended $5,000 - $10,000 per applicant, not to exceed $10,000 per applicant

Cost Share: Encouraged, but not required (In-kind, donations, other non-federal match)


Applicant Eligibility: Government entities (including Tribes), and nonprofit organizations having a tax-exempt declaration of 501(c)(3)

Project Eligibility: Projects must address nonpoint source pollution in areas that do not have an existing, DEQ-accepted Watershed Restoration Plan (see map).

Project Eligibility Map

Example activities include:

  • Preliminary data collection on a previously un-assessed waterbody
  • Development of a Watershed Restoration Plan (WRP) or alternative
  • Development of a Tribal Nonpoint Source Management Plan
  • Demonstration projects to encourage partnerships with landowners
  • Capacity building to support growth of an organization (trainings and symposiums, monitoring equipment, etc.).
  • Nonpoint source pollution reduction projects that invest in/benefit traditionally underserved communities
  • Pursuing creative finance partnerships to address match requirements
  • Conducting a water quality investigation to help prioritize the most effective restoration options and build stakeholder buy in (this type of project will likely require a Sampling and Analysis Plan)
  • Cultivating partnerships with landowners and land managers to develop future projects that could be eligible for §319 grant funding


Anticipated Schedule
Date Event
June 1, 2023 Issue Call for Project Planning Applications. Please notify us as soon as possible of your intent to apply. Applicants are encouraged to reach out early on to discuss ideas.
July 10, 2023 Complete, signed applications due to Meagan Gilmore by 5:00 pm.
July 24, 2023 Applications will be reviewed and evaluated by an internal, DEQ review panel.
August 7, 2023 Notice of intent to award will be sent to successful applicants.
August 31, 2023 Letters of Agreement will be drafted and finalized in consultation with project sponsors. Upon signature, funding becomes available.
November 29, 2024 Final reports must be completed, and all funding must be expended. Final reports will be dependent on the nature of the scope of work but should be a brief (1-2 page) summary that would include how organizational capacity was built, final drafts of watershed planning documents, lessons learned, or details of project designs or proposals developed.

Call for Applications

All project sponsors must thoroughly read the Call for Applications. All project sponsors are encouraged to contact a member of the DEQ Nonpoint Source staff prior to submitting their application.

Contact Us

Meagan Gilmore
Water Quality Specialist, 406-755-8981

Eric Trum
Nonpoint Source and Wetlands Section Supervisor, 406-444-0531

DEQ provides limited funding for education and outreach through our E&O Mini-Grants Program, administered by Soil and Water Conservation. We are also often available to provide group presentations on a wide range of watershed health topics. DEQ provides significant support to watershed groups through partnerships and joint projects with the Montana Watershed Coordination Council, Montana Association of Conservation Districts, and state and federal agency partners.

Check out the education and outreach materials below that the 319 Program helped fund.
List of resources.
Topic Summary Project Sponsor
Beavers A video (5 minutes) about beaver mimicry for stream restoration Gallatin Watershed Council
Boating Lake-friendly fueling: a factsheet Flathead Lakers
Landownership, an online resource for buying, selling, or improving land along lakes, streams, and rivers. Lewis and Clark Conservation District
Landownership A stewardship guide with basic information and best practices related to water, wildlife, forestry, grazing, wetlands, native and invasive plants, and more Blackfoot Challenge
Lawn maintenance Lake-friendly lawns: a factsheet Flathead Lakers
Livestock Management Avoiding algal issues in stockwater ponds: a magazine article MSU Extension
Livestock Management On-site Guide for Livestock Operators Soil and Water Conservation Districts of Montana
Pet Waste Poop Scoop Signs Gallatin Valley Land Trust
Riparian areas Riparian Awareness Campaign: a video (30 seconds) Missoula Valley Water Quality District
Riparian areas Channel migration zones and easements: The Shape of a River, short video (12 minutes) Montana Aquatic Resources Services
Septic Systems A factsheet Flathead Lakers
Septic Systems A checklist to maintain your septic system's record Flathead Lakers
Streams Montana Stream Permitting: A Guide for Conservation District Supervisors and Others Multiple partners
Watersheds An "augmented reality sandbox" for use as an education tool. Visit Lake County CD's website to learn more, and check out the Lake County Conservation District
Watersheds Audio and printed watershed stories, featuring individuals and organizations around the state. Montana Watershed Coordination
Winter maintenance Winter de-icing: a factsheet Flathead Lakers

Montana DEQ encourages the development of locally-led Watershed Restoration Plans (WRPs) as a means of charting a path to improved water quality. All 319-funded projects must implement practices identified in a DEQ-accepted Watershed Restoration Plan.

Watershed Restoration Plans
WRP Sponsor Status
Beaverhead Beaverhead Watershed Committee Accepted 2014, under revision, will include Red Rock
Bitterroot Bitter Root Water Forum Accepted 2020
Blackfoot River Blackfoot Challenge Accepted 2014
Central Clark Fork Tributaries   Under Development
Clarks Fork Yellowstone   Under Development
Clearwater Clearwater Resource Council Under Development
Deep Creek Broadwater Conservation District Accepted 2014
Flathead Lake Flathead Lakers Accepted 2014
Flathead Stillwater Flathead Conservation District Accepted 2017
Flint Creek Granite Headwaters Watershed Group Accepted 2014
Kootenai Basin Kootenai River Network Inc Accepted 2015
Lake Helena Lake Helena Watershed Group/Lewis & Clark Water Quality Protection District Accepted 2016
Little Blackfoot Trout Unlimited Accepted 2016
Lolo Creek Lolo Watershed Group Accepted 2013
Lower Clark Fork Lower Clark Fork Watershed Group Accepted 2019
Lower Gallatin Greater Gallatin Watershed Council Accepted 2014
Lower Jefferson River Trout Unlimited Under Development
Madison River Madison Conservation District Under Development
Miller Creek Missoula Valley Water Quality Protection District Accepted 2018
Middle and Lower Big Hole Watershed Big Hole Watershed Committee Accepted 2013, Under Revision
Middle Fork Judith Trout Unlimited Accepted 2022
Ninemile Creek Trout Unlimited Accepted 2013
Rock Creek Trout Unlimited Accepted 2018
Ruby Ruby Watershed Group Accepted 2015
Shields River Watershed Park Conservation District Accepted 2012
St. Regis Trout Unlimited Under Development
Sun River Sun River Watershed Group Accepted 2022
Swan Basin Swan Ecosystem Center Accepted 2012
Teton River Teton Watershed Group Accepted 2010
Thompson River Lower Clark Fork Watershed Group Accepted 2018
Upper & North Fork Big Hole Watershed Big Hole Watershed Committee Accepted 2012
Upper Clark Fork River Tributaries Watershed Restoration Coalition Accepted 2012
Upper Gallatin River Blue Water Task Force Accepted 2012
Upper Jefferson Jefferson River Watershed Council Under Development

Maps & Media

Ninemile Creek - 319 funded project
Nevada Creek - 319 funded project
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