BILLINGS - Federal regulators have approved Montana's plan to phase in strict new limits on water pollution from municipal wastewater treatment plants, industry and other sources.
Montana Department of Environmental Quality Director Richard Opper said Monday the approved plan allows cities and companies to avoid huge costs they otherwise would face to upgrade pollution control equipment.
Opper says most major polluters still would have to make changes to meet the state's flexible standard for two water pollutants - nitrogen and phosphorus.
But those standards would be ratcheted down over time under a proposal approved last year by the Montana Legislature.
The Environmental Protection Agency had earlier raised concerns that the state's approach does not require individual polluters to prove economic harm before they are given more time to meet federal standards.