Current Streamflow Conditions
Wyoming-Montana Water News and Notices
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The Boulder River and Tenmile Creek watersheds in southwestern Montana were intensively mined for around 40-years following the discovery of gold in the early 1860s. Potential effects from the historic mining activities include acid-mine drainage and elevated concentrations of potentially toxic trace elements from mining remnants such as waste rock and tailing piles. The U.S. Geological Survey, in cooperation with the U.S. Forest Service, investigated temporal trends in water quality at 13 sites to help evaluate effects of remediation efforts in the Boulder River and Tenmile Creek watersheds. Specific conductance, selected trace-elements (cadmium, copper, lead, zinc, and arsenic), and suspended sediment were analyzed for trends.
The trend analyses showed most sites had decreasing trends, to some degree, of most constituents; however, 2 of the 13 sites were located upstream from substantial remediation activities and showed no substantial trending. Decreasing trends in metallic contaminants were seen, in particular, at sites that have been targeted by substantial remediation activities.
Major floods in 1996 and 1997 intensified public concern about the effects of human activities on the Yellowstone River in Montana. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Yellowstone River Conservation District Council, and U.S. Geological Survey began cooperatively studying the Yellowstone River in 2010, publishing four reports describing streamflow information for selected sites in the Yellowstone River Basin, 1928–2002. This fact sheet highlights findings from the published reports and describes the effects of water-use development and structures, primarily dams, on Yellowstone River streamflow.
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Water, bed sediment, and biota were sampled in streams from Butte to near Missoula, Montana, as part of a monitoring program in the upper Clark Fork Basin of western Montana. The sampling program was conducted by the U.S. Geological Survey in cooperation with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to characterize aquatic resources in the Clark Fork Basin, with emphasis on trace elements associated with historic mining and smelting activities. Sampling sites were located on the Clark Fork and selected tributaries. This report presents the analytical results and quality-assurance data for water-quality, bed-sediment, and biota samples collected at sites from October 2012 through September 2013. Statistical summaries of water-quality, bed-sediment, and biological data for sites in the upper Clark Fork Basin are provided for the period of record since 1985.
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Energy development in the Williston Basin oil production area of Montana and North Dakota, which includes the Bakken and Three Forks Formations, has not affected shallow groundwater quality, according to a recently published study in the journal Groundwater. The paper is based on water samples collected by U.S. Geological Survey scientists from 30 randomly distributed, non-federal domestic wells screened in the upper Fort Union Formation.