A recent award by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is
funding South Dakota School of Mines & Technology research on how changes
in land use increase pollutants and influence the health of the Kootenai River
and Lake Koocanusa in Montana, Idaho and British Columbia.
Recent land use changes in the Kootenai River
watershed include increased coal mining and alterations to agricultural
Dr. Lisa Kunza of the
Department of Chemistry & Applied Biological Sciences, is heading a collaborative
research team that includes students, other university partners, and agency
collaborators. The team has already received $160,000 and is
expecting to receive up to $400,000 for its efforts over the next five years.
Selenium and nitrate loads are on the rise in the Kootenai
River as it enters Lake Koocanusa. Selenium is a metal found in natural
deposits and may be exposed during mining activity. In 2012 alone, selenium
loads into the river exceeded 29,000 pounds, a five-fold increase since 1992. There
is heightened concern about possible buildup of selenium in fish tissue. Nitrate
loads have increased substantially as well and may alter the resources
available for fisheries.
Endangered Kootenai White Sturgeon and other organisms
in the river and reservoir could also be affected by the pollutants.
Emily Stickney from Boise, Idaho, is among the
undergraduate and graduate student researchers ...