Impact of Mercury in Flathead Lake Trout

Impact of Mercury in Flathead Lake Trout
FLBS Environmental Economist Nanette Nelson is collaborating with CSKT Natural Resources Department and Salish Kootenai College on EPA Columbia River Basin Grant Project



EPA awards $2 million in grants to reduce toxics throughout Columbia River Basin

September 16, 2020

Bill Dunbar/

Laura Flynn Jenkins/ 303-312-6256

(Seattle) – Today, the Seattle and Denver offices of the Environmental Protection Agency announced they are awarding $2,053,903 in grants to 14 organizations, universities, and government agencies to reduce and assess toxics affecting the Columbia River Basin watershed. (See below for the list of grantees and the work they will be performing.)

The grants are the first from the Columbia River Basin Restoration Funding Assistance Program which was established by Congress in 2016 in part to reduce toxics that have long affected the health of the waters throughout the basin. Human activities have significantly altered the Columbia River Basin’s ecosystem where dozens of local, state, tribal, and federal agencies, universities, conservation districts, community groups, and NGOs have spent decades mitigating impacts on fish and wildlife.




“These grants represent a critical new component of EPA’s efforts to protect and restore the Columbia River Basin, said EPA Region 10 Regional Administrator Chris Hladick. “We expect that these grants will encourage others to invest in complementary work that will provide significant reductions in toxics in the Basin.”

“EPA Region 8 has a strong history of working with our state and tribal partners to enhance environmental and human health in the Columbia River Basin,” said EPA Regional Administrator Greg Sopkin. “I am pleased to announce this grant award to the University of Montana to monitor methylmercury in fish from Flathead Lake and impacts on users of local food pantries in western Montana.”

The Columbia River Basin Restoration Program was created in 2016, through an amendment to the Clean Water Act. It established both a Funding Assistance Program and a working group made up of state governments, tribal governments, industry representatives, and others.

Under the Clean Water Act, water quality is addressed by reducing pollution, including toxics that can accumulate in water, sediment, and fish tissues. Tribal people and other populations who rely on fish for a substantial portion of their diet can be particularly affected by pollution in the basin.

Grant award totals range from $67,597 to $200,000, with an average award of $146,707. Below are the organizations that will receive funding:


  • Nez Perce Tribe -- $200,000
    • Clearwater River watershed
    • Monitoring contaminants (DDT, mercury, other metals, nutrients, plastics) in water and fish tissues.
  • University of Idaho -- $198,957
    • Spokane River Basin, Boise River Basin
    • Monitoring of mercury in crayfish


  • University of Montana -- $128,992
    • Flathead Lake
    • Monitoring methylmercury in fish, impact on users of local food pantries


  • PNW Pollution Prevention Resource Center – $88,304
    • Portland metro area
    • Reduction of pollutants from automotive and landscaping industries
  • Salmon Safe – $200,000
    • Oregon, eastern Washington, northern Idaho
    • Pesticide & erosion reduction, habitat protection & enhancement, farmer certification
  • Multnomah County – $174,045
    • Lower & middle Columbia River, Deschutes, Willamette, Hood watersheds, and southwest Washington
    • Pesticide reduction outreach with focus on Latinx community
  • Lower Columbia River Estuary Program – $67,597
    • Helens & Rainier, Oregon, Longview, Washington
    • Deployment of Grattix boxes to reduce zinc and copper run-off to lower Columbia River
  • Cascade Pacific Resource, Conservation & Development -- $199,999
    • Eugene, Springfield, Lane County
    • Green stormwater infrastructure to reduce metals, PAHs, pesticides in run-off
  • Columbia Riverkeeper – $91,991
    • Hood River County, Wasco County, & Klickitat County (WA)
    • Pollution prevention education focused on youth education


  • Washington State Department of Agriculture – $200,000
    • Palouse River and Yakima River watersheds
    • Pesticides monitoring, reduction, and collection
  • Yakama Nation – $188,378
    • S.-Canada border to Bonneville Dam
    • Tracking of toxics in fish tissues, water, and sediments
  • Washington State Department of Ecology – $105,000
    • Vancouver/Clark County
    • Pollution prevention
  • University of Washington – Tacoma – $76,601
    • Portland to Wauna, Washington
    • Monitoring of unmonitored contaminants, e.g., endocrine disruptors
  • City of Vancouver – $144,039
    • Columbia Slope sub-watershed within the city
    • Water quality and stormwater sampling


For more about the Columbia River Basin Restoration Program, as well as to read summaries of each grant recipient’s work, please visit:

To learn more about EPA’s work in the Columbia River Basin on tribal fish consumption, chemicals of emerging concern, and other related topics, please visit