The Consortium for Research on Environmental Water Systems (CREWS) project is a five-year, $20M NSF EPSCoR RII Track-1 partnership between the University of Montana, Montana State University, Montana Technological University, Salish Kootenai College, Little Bighorn College, and business and government partners to study Montana’s environmental water systems and specific water quality issues. CREWS’ science focus is on water quality impacts related to hard rock mining, intensive agriculture, and energy extraction. The project brings together faculty and students from molecular science and engineering, environmental and earth science, synoptic signal and sensors technology, and natural resource social sciences to address National Research Council-identified challenges to develop a better understanding of how contaminants affect water quality. Topics tackled by CREWS include relationships between ground and surface water quality and chemistry, restoration of damaged ecosystems, development of field-deployable sensors, and strategies that integrate social science into cooperative research. Research activities will focus on three representative Montana water systems: 1) hard rock mining in the Upper Clark Fork River; 2) agriculture in the Judith Basin, and 3) energy extraction in the Powder River Basin. Research activities include studying the origin, persistence and transformation of contaminants in water and their impact on ecological and social systems. CREWS will support building new research competitiveness and infrastructure for the Montana University System (MUS) and partners in ways that advance workforce development, commercialization of project science, STEM education, and inclusion.