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Friday, April 19th

A Method for Determining Suspended-Sediment and Trace-Metals Transpiration in the Clark Fork River, Western Montana

J. R. Knapton, U.S. Geological Survey

Suspended sediments are thought to be an important transport mechanism for toxic trace metals that have been identified in the Clark Fork. Hydrologic data from a network of water-quality stations combined with data simulation will be used to calculate suspended-sediment and trace-metals transport. An ultimate goal of such an investigation might be the development of a predictive model.

Hydrologic Investigation. Silver Bow Creek Superfund Site, Montana

David Stiller, Stiller and Associates, Inc.

The upper Clark Fork River basin in western Montana has the dubious distinction of containing no fewer than three Superfund sites, all of which owe their status to the legacy of Montana's hard rock mining industry.

Limnological Investigations of Lake Pend Oreille, Idaho

Mike A. Beckwith, Idaho Department of Health & Welfare

Degradation of Lake Pend Oreille water quality as evidenced by reduced water clarity and increased "slime" growth in near-shore areas has been reported in recent years. Increased industrial discharges and nonpoint source inputs to the Clark Fork River and continuing development around the lake have created considerable public and agency concern about potential eutrophication. This study was initiated to assess the validity of those reports and concerns and to provide the basis for the design of a comprehensive limnological investigation necessary for the formulation of effective water quality protection and resource management strategies.

Lower Clark Fork River Water Quality Monitoring

Loren Bahls, Montana Department of Health and Environmental Sciences
Gary Ingman, Department of Health and Environmental Sciences, Water Quality Bureau

A large amount of public concern has been expressed in recent months over the general health of the lower Clark Fork River. Modification of the waste- water discharge permit for the Champion International kraft paper mill at Frenchtown has generated much of this concern. Other sources of wastewater, namely the City of Missoula wastewater treatment plant (WWTP) and historic metals deposits originating upstream from Milltown Dam, have also been mentioned as possible sources of stress on the lower river.

The preliminary environmental review of the proposed permit modification for Champion International (Water Quality Bureau, January 1984) outlined a water quality and biological monitoring program that would establish existing conditions and attempt to measure any changes that may result from the permit modification. This paper gives a brief description of the 2-year monitoring program that the Water Quality Bureau initiated in March 1984 and a summary of significant findings to date. Data from this monitoring program will be the technical basis of an environmental impact statement that will address the decision whether to renew the modified permit when it expires in April 1986.

Milltown Project Rehabilitation

R. A. Periman, Montana Power Company

Milltown Dam was constructed in 1906 and 1907 as a rock fill timber-crib dam located at the confluence of the Blackfoot and Clark Fork Rivers at the community of Milltown. It was constructed by the W. A. Clark interests and acquired by the Montana Power Company in 1929. The dam has been modified over the years and now consists of a composite of timber and concrete construction. It presently is 668 feet long with an operating head of 30 feet and a structural height of about 60 feet. It has an installed capacity of 3400 kW. It generates at an average capacity of 2000 kW and produces about 17 million kWh of electric power annually. It is operated as a run-of-river plant utilizing the natural flow of the rivers. The reservoir behind the dam covers about 500 acres and holds about 820 acre/feet. The reservoir is essentially filled with sediments with depths of up to about 25 feet. Indications are that much of the sediment contains elevated concentrations of heavy metals.

Due to its age and type of construction, the project has become increasingly difficult to maintain as a functional and safe project. On three occasions since 1973, the dam has experienced extensive damage due to deteriorated timbers and excessive leakage through the structure. Minor continuous movement in the structure is occurring. In response to these problems, the Montana Power Company studied options for the future use of the project. Three primary objectives governed these studies. They were:

  1. Modifications to the project must be such that any water-retaining structures must be safe so there is no hazard to downstream residents and property.
  2. Modifications must minimize environmental impacts. Of primary importance are measures to prevent the release of sediments in hazardous quantities to the Clark Fork River.
  3. Modifications must be done in a cost-effective manner to minimize impact upon the rising cost of energy.

Three basic options were considered: (1) retirement of the project with removal of the structures, (2) semi-retirement with partial structure removal, and (3) rehabilitation of the project.

Trout Populations in the Clark fork River, Warm Springs to superior, Montana

Dennis Workman, Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks

"In no part of the world is the water more limpid or pure, for whatever may be the depth of the river the bottom is seen as if there were nothing to intercept the view." These words were written by Father deSmet describing the upper Clark Fork River he observed on a trip through the upper basin in 1841. Obviously, the days of such purity are sadly gone for the Clark Fork. But by the same token, gone hopefully forever are the days when the Clark Fork was "Western Montana's sewer to the ocean." This was the headline of an article in the Daily Missoulian, July 10, 1960, in which the reporter described vividly the disgusting mess, which flowed through the area carrying a heavy load of toxic metals, trash of all descriptions, and sewage from nearly every town and industry in the valley. In those days fish kills were documented from the headwaters down the river as far as Superior, and clean-water aquatic insect life was at a nadir. Tremendous improvements in the fishery have occurred since 1960, but there is still a long way to go to restore the full potential of the sport fishery and the amenities it provides.

The sport fishery of the Clark Fork upstream from Milltown Dam consists predominantly of brown trout (Salmo trutta) with small numbers of rainbow trout (Salmo gairdneri), cutthroat trout (Salmo alarki lewisi), bull trout (Salvelinus aonfluentus), and brook trout (Salvelinus fontinalis). Downstream from Milltown Dam rainbow trout dominate the species composition with smaller numbers of the other species. In our present-day management of these species we strive to provide fishermen a good opportunity to catch a trout 14 inches or larger and we work to improve the environment for self-sustaining wild trout populations.

USDA Forest Service Clark Fork River Basin Monitoring

Michael P. Goggin, USDA Forest Service, Northern Region

I am pleased to be here to share with you Forest Service water quality monitoring activities in the Clark Fork River basin. Throughout the day, we have heard about the many and varied studies and approaches to monitoring water quality in the Clark Fork River. It is important that this information be brought together and shared so that we can understand the cumulative impacts from all ownerships and activities on the Clark Fork River. Under- standing the cumulative impacts is paramount to the management of the water resource in the Clark Fork basin.

As you may know, there are six National Forests that occupy portions of the Clark Fork basin: Flathead, Kootenai, Lolo, Bitterroot, Helena, and Deerlodge. These Forests encompass substantial acres of the watershed and contribute significantly to the flows in the river. These areas are an essential part of the headwaters of the Clark Fork.

Since we have heard a considerable amount of information regarding the results of studies and monitoring, I would like to use my limited time to give you an overview of Forest Service water quality monitoring activities. For this discussion I would like to take a moment to discuss monitoring activities as they relate to National Forest land management activities. Monitoring on National Forest lands can be categorized into three basic kinds. These are broadly described as (I) administration of on-the-ground land management activities, (2) hydrologic monitoring, and (3) aquatic monitoring. Of the three, it is extremely important that we place a high value on supervision of land management activities "on-the-ground" as essential to the protection of water resources.