The City is pleased to announce that the City Environmental Coordinator Casey Lewis was recently awarded an Environmental Excellence Award by the Montana Department of Environmental Quality for her work as an MS4 Program manager and for her ‘engaged, thoughtful, organized community leadership’ in stormwater management. The DEQ official who presented her award said that Casey’s commitment to water quality is not limited to the City of Kalispell as she has been helping the northwest community protect one of our greatest assets, Flathead Lake. In addition to winning this prestigious award at the 2022 Montana Stormwater Conference, she co-presented 3 sessions at the conference. In fact, five of the conference presentations included co-presenters from the City of Kalispell or were about Kalispell Programs including:
- Flathead Basin Commission Panel: Protecting Water Quality through a Holistic Lens (presented by Casey Lewis and others)
- Watershed Collaboration to Assess and Mitigate Stormwater Impacts in the Flathead Basin (presented by Casey Lewis and Flathead Basin Commission, a project partner)
- The Kalispell Stormwater TMDL Action Plan (presented by Casey Lewis and HDR)
- The Benefits of Regional Stormwater Management (presented by City Senior Engineer Keith Haskins and AE2S)
- Flathead Rain Garden Initiative (presented by the Flathead Basin Commission, a project partner)
As an MS4 Program Manager, Casey works on maintaining compliance with the state Municipal Separate Storm Sewer System (MS4) permit from DEQ. An MS4 consists of a city’s stormwater conveyance system including underground pipes, roads with drainage systems, gutters, and ditches. Kalispell’s stormwater system includes 1,540 manholes, 4,208 inlets, 115 stormwater basins, 78 outfalls, and 109 miles of underground pipe. The goal of the program is to protect and improve local water quality because most stormwater enters local rivers and streams without any treatment. The primary program components include public outreach and education, illicit discharge, construction and post construction storm-water management, and municipal pollution prevention. Kalispell was the only MS4 permit community in the state that did not receive a violation from DEQ during the last inspection cycle.
Since stormwater and related environmental issues are so complex with lots of different stakeholders and factors, it has been vital for Casey to seek out and nourish partnerships and collaborations that help spread the responsibility and involvement of protecting water quality to the larger community. Casey explained the City’s MS4 program includes consistent and helpful partnerships such as the Flathead Basin Commission and the Flathead Conservation District. One of the City’s local contractors, Cody Sandon with Sandon Construction also earned an Environmental Excellence award at the Stormwater Conference for being responsive, adaptive, and following through on his commitments. Cody has worked with the City engineering department on 50/50 sidewalk projects for several years.