Wyoming-Montana Water Science Center
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Online Publications for Wyoming-Montana Water Science Center
The Wyoming-Montana Water Science Center publishes water-information reports on many topics and in many formats. From this Web page, you can locate, view, download, or order scientific and technical articles and reports as well as general interest publications such as booklets, fact sheets, pamphlets, and posters resulting from the research performed by our scientists and partners.
A bibliography of Wyoming water resources reports through water year 2007 is available.
Water, bed sediment, and biota were sampled in selected 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 led 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. Water samples were collected periodically at 20 sites from October 2014 through September 2015. Bed-sediment and biota samples were collected once at 13 sites during August 2015. 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.
Nitrogen and phosphorus are essential nutrients for plant and animal growth, but the overabundance of bioavailable nitrogen and phosphorus in water can cause adverse health and ecological effects. Recent studies of the Fish Creek watershed in west-central Wyoming have indicated a greater biovolume of aquatic plants than is typically observed in streams of similar size in Wyoming, and data indicate it is likely because of increased nitrogen and phosphorus inputs into the watershed. The U.S. Geological Survey, in cooperation with the Teton Conservation District, recently identified and quantified the sources and inputs of nitrogen and phosphorus to the Fish Creek watershed. The east-southeastern part of the watershed has the greatest input of nitrogen and phosphorus, which corresponds with the human activities that add additional nutrients to the watershed. The largest inputs for a 10-acre cell generally are associated with sewage treatment plant injection sites, livestock waste, and distributed land use where septic systems and fertilized lawns are located.
Sampling during low-flow conditions is the most common approach for characterizing water quality in streams affected by mining. While this type of sampling is an invaluable part of site characterization, investigations which focus solely on low-flow conditions may yield incomplete and sometimes misleading results. A recently completed study, which involved sampling before and during a rainstorm, demonstrated this point. During the low-flow period prior to the rainstorm, concentrations of most constituents met aquatic standards. However, sampling during higher flow, which had been augmented by rainfall runoff, showed that metal concentrations were 2–23 times higher than the concentrations observed during low-flow sampling. The possible mechanisms responsible for the increase in metal concentrations as well as other findings from the study are described.
Changes in streamflow associated with long-term climate change may render some streams in the Northern Great Plains uninhabitable for current fish species. To better understand future hydrology of these prairie streams, the Precipitation-Runoff Modeling System model and RegCM3 Regional Climate model were used to simulate streamflow for seven watersheds in eastern and central Montana, for a baseline period and three future periods.
The Northern Patagonia Icefield (NPI) is the primary glaciated terrain worldwide at its latitude (46.5–47.5°S), and constraining its glacial history provides unique information for reconstructing Southern Hemisphere paleoclimate. The Colonia Glacier is the largest outlet glacier draining the eastern NPI. Ages were determined using dendrochronology, lichenometry, radiocarbon, cosmogenic 10Be and optically stimulated luminescence.
During the extended history of mining in the upper Clark Fork Basin in Montana, large amounts of waste materials enriched with metallic contaminants (cadmium, copper, lead, and zinc) and the metalloid trace element arsenic were generated from mining operations near Butte and milling and smelting operations near Anaconda. The USGS, in cooperation with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, completed a study to analyze trends on specific conductance, selected trace elements (arsenic, copper, and zinc), and suspended sediment for seven sampling sites in the Milltown Reservoir/Clark Fork River Superfund Site for water years 1996–2015.
StreamStats is a Web-based geographic information system application that was created by the USGS to provide users with access to an assortment of analytical tools that are useful for water-resource planning and management. StreamStats allows users to easily obtain streamflow and basin characteristics for USGS streamflow-gaging stations and user-selected locations on ungaged streams. The USGS, in cooperation with Montana Department of Transportation, Montana Department of Environmental Quality, and Montana Department of Natural Resources and Conservation, completed a study to develop a StreamStats application for Montana, compute streamflow characteristics at streamflow-gaging stations, and develop regional regression equations to estimate streamflow characteristics at ungaged sites.