Nutrient Pollution

Aquatic plants need nutrients to survive, but in elevated concentrations nutrients can negatively impact waterbodies, often through the creation of harmful algal blooms (HABs). HABs are an overgrowth of a type of algae, known as cyanobacteria, in water that can affect water quality and aquatic life. Some cyanobacteria can create toxins that may harm people and animals. Learn about different sources of nutrients and how you can help prevent nutrient pollution!

Protect Against Nutrient Pollution


Keep leaves and grass off streets, storm drains, and sidewalks.

When fallen leaves and grass clippings get into storm drains, they can become clogged, potentially flooding our streets, and sending pollutants to our local streams and rivers. Excess leaves, grass clippings, and fertilizers/pesticides in streams can cause elevated levels of nutrients and lower oxygen levels in water, potentially harming aquatic life.


Pick up, bag, and throw pet waste in the trash.

When pet waste is left on the ground in public or at home, bacteria and excess nutrients can wash into storm drains and eventually into local waterbodies. In addition to nutrients, pet waste can contain disease-causing organisms, and when it enters our local rivers and streams it increases public and aquatic life health risks.


Keep an eye on your local waterbodies and report any oddities.

Because water management agencies and conservation groups cannot be everywhere all the time, they rely on citizens to report issues on their lakes. Things like harmful algal blooms (HABs) are regularly discovered by recreators and waterfront property owners. Use caution during an HAB event (or a potential HAB event) as your health can be impacted when you are near, consume, or swim in the water.

Click to learn more about harmful algal blooms, how to identify them, and to report suspected sightings! We need your help to keep your community safe from HABs!

Stay current on all things Montana Waters