Posters with abstracts (alphabetized by lead author)

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Friday, April 24th
12:00 PM

Flow-related Water Quality Impairments in the Clark Fork and Kootenai Basins

Adam Andis, University of Montana - Missoula
Jonathan Drygas, University of Montana - Missoula
Vicki J. Watson, University of Montana - Missoula

12:00 PM - 2:00 PM

As in most western states, ‘water is for fighting over’ in Montana. Population growth, energy development and climate change all contribute to increased scarcity of this resource. And increasingly, the connection between water quality and water quantity is being recognized as it was in the recently released Montana state water plan. Unfortunately, water quality and water quantity are managed by different agencies. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Montana Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) list many streams as impaired (unable to support their beneficial uses) due to insufficient flows. The Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks (FWP) also lists streams as Chronically or Acutely Dewatered on the basis of fish habitat suitability. However, it is the Montana Department of Natural Resources (DNRC) that actually allocates water rights and regulates use.

DEQ records indicate that 1086 miles of streams (24% of assessed stream miles) are impaired by insufficient flow in the Clark Fork & Kootenai basins. In addition, many other types of impairment are exacerbated by low flows (including temperature, dissolved oxygen, metals, and nutrient pollution). Along with low flows, these types of impairments affect 2356 miles of streams (52% of assessed stream miles) in these basins. Many TMDLs and Water Quality Restoration Plans indicate that low flows due to high consumptive use contribute to these impairments.

Strategies to improve water quality by reducing consumptive use and restoring flows include: switching to crops that require less water; drought management plans in which users stagger water use; retiring irrigated crop land with low productivity; water leasing and purchase for instream flows. While basin closures help to prevent worsening water quality, they cannot correct existing problems. And basin closures are not imposed for water quality reasons, but because more withdrawals would affect other consumptive water users.

DEQ, DNRC and DFWP should cooperate on identifying and funding high priority projects for water quality improvement through flow restoration.

Bitter Root Water Forum's Watershed Restoration Plan

Heather Mullee Barber, Bitterroot Water Forum
Katie Vennie, Bitterroot Water Forum
Carolyn Prescott, Bitterroot Water Forum

12:00 PM - 2:00 PM

The Bitter Root Water Forum, as the non-profit watershed group of the Bitterroot Valley, is the Valley’s resource on any water related topics. By providing environmental education and participating in ‘on the ground’ restoration projects, BRWF is able to meet community members wherever their uses intersect with the resource. Restoration and education priorities are informed by BRWF’s Watershed Restoration Plan (WRP), which identified priority streams based on non-point source (NPS) pollution issues as well as landowner and partner involvement in an area. Non-point source pollution is often addressed in terms of Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) documents, and specific pollutants addressed in Bitterroot watershed TMDLs include nutrients, sediment, and temperature. In order to systematically address NPS pollution in the Bitterroot watershed, BRWF uses the WRP to explore how the TMDLs of tributaries affect the main stem of the Bitterroot River, and to prioritize streams for restoration based on their impairment and impact on the rest of the watershed. From this prioritized list, BRWF is able to implement restoration efforts that can have a lasting impact on the overall health of the Bitterroot Watershed. The list also defines ways in which BRWF can offer education to community members on the importance of maintaining and improving the health of the Bitterroot watershed.

Hyporheic Microbial Biofilms as Indicators of Heavy Metal Toxicity in the Clark Fork Basin, MT

Elliott Barnhart, Montana State University; U.S. Geological Survey
Chiachi Hwang, Montana State University
Nicholas Bouskill, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory
Michelle Hornberger, U.S. Geological Survey
Matthew Fields, Montana State University

12:00 PM - 2:00 PM

Water-saturated sediments that underlie a stream channel contain microbial biofilms that are often responsible for the majority of the metabolic activity in river and stream ecosystems. Metal contamination from mining effluent can modify the biofilm community structure, diversity, and activity. Developing a mechanistic understanding of the biofilm response to metal contamination could provide a useful bioindicator of metal toxicity due to the ease of standard biofilm sampling, environmental ubiquity of biofilms and the rapid response of biofilms to environmental perturbation and metal toxicity. Here we present data on the structure of the biofilm community (e.g., microbial population composition and diversity) and trace metal concentrations in water, bed sediment and biota (benthic insects) across 15 sites in the Clark Fork Basin. Sample sites were selected across a historically-monitored metal pollution gradient at shallow riffles with bed sediment predominantly composed of pebbles, cobbles, and sand. Bed-sediment samples (for biofilm analysis) were obtained from the top 20 centimeters of the hyporheic zone and sieved using sterile sieves to obtain homogeneous sediment samples with particle sizes ranging from 1.70 to 2.36 milimeters. Linear discriminant analysis and effect size statistical methods were used to integrate the metals concentration data (for water and benthic-insects samples) with the microbial community analysis to identify microbial biomarkers of metal toxicity. The development of rapid microbial biomarker tools could provide reproducible and quantitative insights into the effectiveness of remediation activities on metal toxicity and advances in the field of environmental biomonitoring.

Big Sky Watershed Corps: Four years of service on the Clark Fork

Molly Barth, Trout Unlimited; Big Sky Watershed Corps

12:00 PM - 2:00 PM

The Big Sky Watershed Corps (BSWC) is an AmeriCorps program in partnership with the Montana Conservation Corps, Montana Association of Conservation Districts, and Montana Watershed Coordination Council . BSWC began in 2012 as a way to increase the capacity of watershed organizations throughout state of Montana while developing a cadre of young conservation professionals. BSWC members serve 10.5 months at their host site and focus on the program’s three major goals: watershed health and protection, watershed education, and outreach and volunteer generation. BSWC members have contributed meaningful work throughout the Clark Fork River Basin over the past four years with the help of host site organizations such as Trout Unlimited, the Bitter Root Water Forum, Blackfoot Challenge, Clark Fork Coalition, Lolo National Forest/Lolo Watershed Group, Flathead Lakers, Watershed Restoration Council, and the Watershed Education Network. Past work includes restoration planning, research, monitoring, hands-on field projects, volunteer generation, and community education. Many BSWC members continue on to permanent watershed conservation related positions in their respective areas, further illustrating the immense capacity of the program to foster leaders who have can have huge positive impacts on restoration efforts in the Clark Fork River Basin.

Arsenic Geochemistry in Warm Springs Ponds: New Field and Experimental Results

Heather Boese, Montana Tech - College of Technology
Christopher Gammons, Montana Tech - College of Technology

12:00 PM - 2:00 PM

Silver Bow Creek flows into the Warm Springs Ponds Operable Unit (WSPOU), where various containment cells are used to precipitate copper and other metals (e.g., Cd, Mn, Pb, Zn). Lime is added seasonally to increase the pH and assist in removal of metals from the water column. Although the WSPOU is effective at removing copper and other cationic trace metals, concentrations of dissolved arsenic exiting the facility are elevated (> 20 mg/L) during low-flow periods each summer and fall.

A series of laboratory mesocosm experiments with pH adjustment have been completed using upstream Silver Bow Creek water and Pond 3 water, as well as shallow sediment from Pond 3. In addition, new field data have been collected from the south end of Pond 3 using PVC piezometers and sediment pore-water diffusion samplers (peepers). Results of the mesocosm experiments (open system, with continuous stirring) show no increase in dissolved As concentration with increase in pH up to pH’s > 11. Therefore, we believe that the release of As into the ponds in low-flow periods is not due to changes in pH alone. Instead, we hypothesize that arsenic release is linked to microbial reduction of ferric oxide minerals in the organic-rich sediment. Dissolved sulfate is also microbially reduced in the sediment to H2S, which also influences the geochemistry of As and Fe. Upwards diffusion of dissolved As from the sediment pore-water into the pond water is the most likely explanation for the increase in As concentration of the WSPOU in low-flow periods.

Floating Treatment Wetlands improving water quality in the Clark Fork Basin

Christine Brissette, Watershed Consulting, LLC

12:00 PM - 2:00 PM

BioHaven® Floating Treatment Wetlands are a highly versatile, biomimetic approach to improving water quality and the integrity of aquatic ecosystems. The scalable floating island design replicates and concentrates natural wetland processes, using microbes and plants to capture and remove pollutants from water. Floating Treament Wetlands have been successful in wastewater and stormwater applications, and have also been designed for habitat improvement. Local and regional examples will be presented.

The Clearwater-Blackfoot Project: Large Landscape Conservation through Public-Private Partnerships

Chris Bryant, The Nature Conservancy
Sara Schmidt, Blackfoot Challenge

12:00 PM - 2:00 PM

Across the West, corporate timber companies continue to divest lands as their real estate values increase. This transition presents a great opportunity for conservation. In 2004, working with partners through the Blackfoot Challenge, The Nature Conservancy purchased roughly 89,000 acres from Plum Creek Timber Company in the upper Blackfoot watershed. In 2008, The Conservancy purchased another 310,586 acres throughout the Southern Crown of the Continent in what is known as the Montana Legacy Project. The Clearwater-Blackfoot Project builds on this earlier work with communities, organizations, and government agencies to conserve northwest Montana’s natural and cultural heritage. In January, The Nature Conservancy purchased 117,152 acres of Plum Creek lands in the lower Blackfoot River Valley, constituting all of the company’s remaining holdings in the watershed. Clearwater-Blackfoot Project lands provide critical habitat for threatened Canada lynx and grizzly bears and are regularly traversed by wolverines. The streams provide habitat for Westslope cutthroat and bull trout while the forests, meadows and wetlands support a diversity of birds and other wildlife species.

Generations of people have worked and played in these mountains and high valleys. While decades of timber harvest have left the forest in need of rest and restoration, this area can continue to contribute to future resource economies. Ultimately, these lands will be conveyed into a mix of federal, state and private ownership following a community-based process with the Blackfoot Challenge to identify the best possible permanent outcomes for these lands for both conservation and the rural way of life.

Remediation of legacy metal mining waste and ecosystem recovery: the Clark Fork Basin

Daniel Cain, U.S. Geological Survey
James Carter, U.S. Geological Survey

12:00 PM - 2:00 PM

Monitoring data is used to track clean up and restoration of river systems contaminated by metal mining. However, effects of metal exposures and natural processes are frequently confounded spatially and temporally, thereby complicating evaluations of the efficacy of remedial actions on ecosystem recovery. The purpose of this study was to identify environmental factors that best predicted temporal patterns in macroinvertebrate composition within the Clark Fork Basin during a 9-year period (1993-2001) of variable discharge. The study encompassed a 220 km reach extending from lower Silver Bow Creek to the Clark Fork River at Turah. The entire study reach was subdivided into upper and lower segments based on coarse geomorphic features, stream flow, and species distributions. Hierarchical partitioning identified Cu exposure and peak annual velocity (a measure of flood disturbance) as the strongest predictors of temporal changes in total, EPT, and mayfly richness. The relative effects of each variable could not be generalized, however. Within the upstream segment, shifts in richness were best predicted by a gradual recession in dissolved Cu concentration, while within the lower segment, richness was most affected by a combination of flood disturbance and accompanying pulses of Cu exposure, identified by sediment Cu concentration and by Cu body burdens in a bioindicator. The analysis suggests that the ecosystem is recovering in response to remedial actions in the upper basin. As Cu is further abated, other environmental factors and biotic interactions are expected to exert more influence on, and ultimately define species distributions.

Montana Bureau of Mines and Geology Ground Water Assessment Program--Statewide Data Collection and Delivery

Camela Carstarphen, Montana Ground Water Assessment Program, Montana Bureau of Mines and Geology

12:00 PM - 2:00 PM

Established by the Legislature in 1991, the Montana Ground Water Assessment Program (GWAP) was designed to improve the understanding of Montana’s groundwater resources by collecting, interpreting, and disseminating essential groundwater information. The Program has three parts: (1) Ground Water Characterization Program, (2) Ground Water Monitoring Program, and (3) Ground Water Information Center. An interagency steering committee selects study areas and oversees Program progress.

The Ground Water Characterization Program systematically assesses the state’s major aquifers. Field work has been completed in 22 counties. Currently, work is ongoing in Park and Sweet-Grass counties; Lincoln and Sanders counties are scheduled for 2016. The program works closely with local government, agricultural, business, and conservation groups to identify important groundwater issues within each characterization area. To date, high-quality data have been collected from more than 8600 sites, groundwater samples have been analyzed from about 1800 wells, and 64 maps and reports describing groundwater conditions have been released (reports and maps can be viewed and downloaded from the GWCP page in GWIC, Almost all of the Clark Fork Basin has been assessed. Almost 2800 sites have been visited and over 800 sites sampled. There are 29 maps completed and 10 reports.

The state-wide Ground Water Monitoring Program collects baseline water-level and water-quality data from a network of more than 900 wells; some wells have been regularly monitored since the 1950s. The network covers the state’s major aquifers and includes wells from <10 feet to>3,600 feet in depth. Data from the network show how groundwater levels respond to climatic variability, land-use change, and/or development stress. Within the Clark Fork Basin there are approximately 216 statewide network wells.

The Ground Water Information Center (GWIC) is Montana’s official repository for groundwater information. All groundwater data, including maps, reports, and hydrographs are accessible through the GWIC online database ( GWIC stores data collected by all MBMG programs, other agencies, and stores well log as copies and as digital data. The data can be downloaded by location (TRS) or county, or viewed using an interactive web mapping application.

The Clark Fork Watershed Education Program: Connecting students and citizens to their watershed through education

Rayelynn Connole, Clark Fork Watershed Education Program
Arlene Alvarado, Clark Fork Watershed Education Program
Chris Doyle, Clark Fork Watershed Education Program
Emily Munday, Clark Fork Watershed Education Program
Abby Peltomaa, Clark Fork Watershed Education Program

12:00 PM - 2:00 PM

The Clark Fork Watershed Education Program (Cfwep.Org) is a non-profit organization that fosters environmental stewardship and scientific literacy through place-based education. Through a variety of programs, Cfwep.Org creates authentic research experiences for students and teachers, provides service learning opportunities for local youth, and connects community members to their watershed. In the last ten years, we have served over 33,000 students.

In fall and spring, middle school students learn about mining damage and restoration in our Restoration Education Program (REP). REP culminates with a field day on Silver Bow Creek in which students measure water chemistry, identify benthic macroinvertebrates, conduct a riparian assessment, and learn how stormwater connects upland areas to the creek. Throughout the year, G6-12 science students and teachers engage in bacteriophage discovery in our Bringing Research Into the Classroom (BRIC) program, which also has a rigorous teacher professional development component. Through the Montana Partnership with Regions for Excellence in STEM (MPRES), Cfwep.Org has become a leader in Montana for educating teachers about the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS). To engage community members in watershed stewardship, we host an annual creek cleanup day. These and other programs exemplify the organization’s mission to create scientifically literate citizens and stewards through using watershed science as a framework.

In future, we plan to reach younger children with recreation education, and high school students with in-depth research experiences. Cfwep.Org also hopes to implement a mentorship program for pre-college science students.

Sustainable Forest Management and Resource Conservation on Trust Lands in the Clark Fork River Basin

Sam Dexter, Forest Management Bureau-Trust Lands; Montana Department of Natural Resources and Conservation
Jeff Schmalenberg, Forest Management Bureau-Trust Lands; Montana Department of Natural Resources and Conservation
Jim Bower, Forest Management Bureau-Trust Lands; Montana Department of Natural Resources and Conservation

12:00 PM - 2:00 PM

The Montana Department of Natural Resources and Conservation (DNRC) manages 598,000 acres of State Trust Lands in Montana’s Clark Fork basin, of which 534,000 acres are forested. These lands are held in trust to support public education and stewardship of Montana’s soil, water, and fisheries resources. Congruent with this mandate, and a multispecies Habitat Conservation Plan (HCP), DNRC develops forest management projects to maintain, protect and restore water quality, riparian function, and fisheries habitat. Of paramount importance, forest management projects include improving road systems and associated road-stream crossing structures to eliminate or reduce sediment delivery to stream networks. Many forest management projects contribute directly or indirectly to invasive fish management, fish habitat connectivity improvements, and channel and vegetation restoration. Effective monitoring of these activities provides a necessary and important adaptive feedback loop. Such monitoring includes, but is not limited to: in-situ turbidity monitoring, Best Management Practices (BMPs) application and effectiveness monitoring, fish habitat inventory, and riparian condition inventories. This poster presentation will provide insight into the dynamic nature of DNRC’s Forest Management program within the many major subbasins of the Clark Fork watershed in Montana.

Missoula Wastewater Treatment Plant moves toward Zero Waste

Jonathan Drygas, University of Montana - Missoula
D. Ibarra, University of Montana - Missoula
Vicki J. Watson, University of Montana - Missoula
L. Borgessilva, University of Montana - Missoula
A. Bervianroratto, University of Montana - Missoula
J. Camposamorim, University of Montana - Missoula
L. Conradofernandes, University of Montana - Missoula
L. Dasilvalbino, University of Montana - Missoula
L. Limabandeira, University of Montana - Missoula
R. Mariadesouza, University of Montana - Missoula
V. Silveriadeandrade, University of Montana - Missoula
S. Kenyon, Missoula Wastewater Treatment Plant
G. Connell, Missoula Wastewater Treatment Plant
S. Sullivan, Missoula Wastewater Treatment Plant

12:00 PM - 2:00 PM

Since the construction of Missoula’s first waste water plant in 1962, the plant has undergone many upgrades. The primary treatment system was upgraded to secondary treatment in 1974. The plant’s capacity grew from 9 MGD in 1998 to 12 MGD by 2007. Over the past 30 years, loads to the river of nitrogen and phosphorus have been reduced by 70 and 85% respectively, even as the number of households and businesses served have increased by 14%. Surprisingly, despite the increasing number of people served by the plant, influent water to the plant has been dropping recently, thanks to water conservation efforts.

The most recent major upgrade to the Missoula WWTP involved the installation of a Biological Nutrient Removal system (using the Modified Johannesburg Process) in 2004. And starting in 2014, some of the effluent is being used to irrigate a hybrid poplar plantation. The city of Missoula is exploring using all of the effluent during the irrigation season.

A recent nutrient budget constructed for the WWTP showed that over 90% of the phosphorus entering the plant is captured as biosolids that is made into compost by Ekocompost. About 30% of the nitrogen is captured as biosolids, 20% enters the river, and almost 50% is apparently removed by denitrification.

While the plant and the nearby plantation greatly reduce nutrient loading to the river, the plant does use a lot of energy. The plant’s energy use accounted for about 36% of Missoula city government’s greenhouse gas emissions in 2008. The plant does capture about 50% on an annual basis of the methane generated by the digesters and uses it to heat digesters. The city is now studying capturing 100% of the methane to generate electricity to run pumps at the plant.

Much to do about a Brownfield—Missoula White Pine Sash Superfund Site

Jennifer Harrington, University of Montana - Missoula

12:00 PM - 2:00 PM

Since the development of the Hellgate Trading post, a flour mill and sawmill on the Clark Fork River in the 1800s, area industries have helped support Missoula. But such industries can leave a legacy of contamination. The Missoula White Pine and Sash (MWPS) mill on Missoula’s north side used wood preservatives (pentachlorophenol and diesel mixtures) that leaked, over decades, into the soil and water. These chemicals could contaminate Missoula’s sole-source aquifer, and ultimately affect public health. At MWPS, investigations and some mitigation and clean-up have been done over the two decades since the site was placed on the Montana Superfund National Priorities list. However, no final Record of Decision (ROD), stating the level of clean up required, was released until February 2015. Cleanup of hundreds of Montana ‘brownfields’, like MWPS, has been slowed by the amending of legislation and regulations over time.

Many stakeholders will be affected by this long-awaited cleanup decision. However, the Montana Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ), the agency in charge of the Superfund site, only recognizes as stakeholders: Huttig Sash and Door (owners of White Pine Sash and Pole) and three current site property owners (the city of Missoula, Zip Beverage, and Scott Street Partners (SSLLP)). The residents that live next to the site are not considered stakeholders by the DEQ. To effectively remediate the MWPS site, changes are needed in the nature of community involvement, the options for methods to clean the site, and the laws that currently govern the actions of the DEQ. Additional excavation is needed in key parts of the site, and In-situ and Ex-situ bioremediation of the surface and subsurface soil and the groundwater need to be explored.

Remediation and restoration of the Upper Clark Fork River: influences on floodplain soil organic matter

B. Holzworth, University of Montana - Missoula
M. Peipoch, University of Montana - Missoula
H. Maurice Valett, University of Montana - Missoula

12:00 PM - 2:00 PM

Remediation and restoration of the Upper Clark Fork River (UCFR) represents an experiment addressing aquatic-terrestrial interaction at the landscape scale. Remediation and restoration along Reach A (from Warm Springs to Garrison) is designed to reconnect the channel and floodplain over ca. 70 km of river length. The process includes removal of metal-contaminated floodplain soils, lowering of the soil surface, introduction of new top soil, and re-vegetating the floodplain. Lowering the floodplain elevation should enhance river-floodplain interaction with potential influences on sediment deposition, and soil organic matter content and composition. In this study, we compared characteristics of soil organic matter, including % organic matter, water soluble dissolved organic carbon, and specific ultraviolet absorbance (SUVA) signatures among five sites associated with restoration of Reach A. The five sites were chosen to represent different soil types and ‘stages’ in the restoration process including: 1) pre-restoration conditions, 2) ongoing soil removal, 3) replacement top soil, 4) recently remediated and restored (i.e., <1>yr), and 5) 5-yr post-remediation floodplain soils. Measures of organic matter abundance and composition (i.e., SUVA) were compared to autochthonous organic matter (i.e., benthic algae, Cladophora) to assess how potential organic matter sources may differ in terms of bioavailable carbon for river foodwebs.

Using metal mixtures to identify site-specific risks to stream benthic macroinvertebrates in the Clark Fork River, MT

Michelle Hornberger, U.S. Geological Survey
Terry Short, U.S. Geological Survey
Daniel Cain, U.S. Geological Survey

12:00 PM - 2:00 PM

Tissue residue studies using benthic macroinvertebrates are often used to infer risk to organisms affected by metals exposure. These organisms accumulate metals from their environment and provide a direct measure of metal bioavailability. Though copper and arsenic are the primary elements of concern, a century of hard rock mining within the Clark Fork River (CFR) basin has inundated the watershed with a suite of heavy metals. Accordingly, aquatic organisms in this system are exposed to a mixture of metals that varies in concentration depending upon the relative contribution of individual or combinations of metals. To assess possible effects of remediation efforts in the most contaminated segment of the upstream reach, metal bioaccumulation patterns for standardized metals and metal mixtures were analyzed for two species of caddisflies (Hydropsyche occidentalis and H. cockerelli). Since 1997, samples were collected annually at 10 long-term monitoring stations in the CFR. Site-specific differences in individual metal distribution patterns varied for some metals, suggesting the presence of local source of metal inputs to the receiving system independent of historic mining-related sources in the headwater portions of the drainage. Piecewise regression analysis of cumulative distribution plots of individual and metal mixture concentrations in caddisflies also identified river segments of greatest relative change in bioavailable metals. Comparisons of metal mixtures and regression slopes over time provides a means to evaluate the extent to which remediation activities have affected metal-distribution patterns and relative concentrations of bioavailable metals in the CFR drainage.

Long-Term Trends in Base Flow, Precipitation, and Groundwater Development in the Bitterroot Watershed

John LaFave, Montana Bureau of Mines and Geology
Jeremy Crowley, Montana Bureau of Mines and Geology

12:00 PM - 2:00 PM

Most municipalities and residences in the Bitterroot watershed rely on groundwater. Between 1970 and 2012, the number of wells in the watershed increased eight-fold to more than 20,000 (GWIC, Well densities on non-federal land are approximately 30 wells per square mile, the highest in the state. Groundwater pumping must be balanced by either decreased groundwater storage or a combination of increased recharge and/or decreased groundwater discharge (capture). Usually, the groundwater discharge component (often seen as baseflow in streams) is captured by groundwater development.

To assess potential capture of Bitterroot River flow by groundwater development, the authors calculated daily maximum, median, and mean flows; 7-day minimum flows; and long-term flow trends for the 1935-2013 period of record (USGS gauge 12352500, Bitterroot River at Missoula) using Exploration and Graphics for River Trends (EGRET) software. Seasonal trend analysis and Loess smoothing were used to determine the long-term trends in baseflow during December-February periods, which should be the most sensitive to decreased groundwater discharge.

Although there are more than 20,000 wells in the Bitterroot Valley, groundwater use has not produced measurable basin-wide impacts to Bitterroot River baseflow. Stream-flow is highly correlated with precipitation and relatively uncorrelated with increased groundwater development. Long-term groundwater monitoring that began in 1993 shows slight declining water-level trends in 20 of 27 shallow wells. The declines may reflect: 1) decreased groundwater storage due to pumping, 2) decreased recharge due to changing irrigation or other land-use practices, or 3) decreased recharge due to climate variability. The decline in groundwater levels may eventually decrease groundwater discharge to the Bitterroot River.

Pharmaceuticals and personal care products in the Clark Fork River compared to national data

M. Peipoch, University of Montana - Missoula
H. Maurice Valett, University of Montana - Missoula

12:00 PM - 2:00 PM

Pollution by pharmaceutical and personal care products (PPCPs) is an emerging concern because they are ubiquitous in freshwaters and may have adverse effects on ecosystem structure and function. Predicting PPCP abundance in freshwater systems is inhibited by the multiple controls on degradation and fate, as well as the unique characteristics of each individual compound. The Clark Fork River was one of 42 sites included in the RiverPACE project (Riverine Pharmaceutical Assessment, Collection, and Education Project), a collaborative effort to promote awareness of PPCPs in freshwater and develop a national database of PPCP concentrations in diverse river and stream ecosystems. Six different compounds were found at detectable levels in the waters of the Clark Fork River as it passes through Missoula. Those detected PPCPs were primarily associated with human antibiotics, antidepressants, and antihistamine medications, but sucralose (i.e., artificial sweetener) appeared at highest concentration. Compounds showing largest concentration ranges across the US, such as lincomycin (i.e., veterinary antibiotic) and triclosan (i.e., antiseptic present in toothpaste), were not detected in the Clark Fork River. Overall, concentrations of all compounds in the Clark Fork River were relatively low, especially when compared to nation- and world-wide concentrations of detectable PPCPs in water. Effects of PPCPs on humans through water consumption remain currently unknown, but the information derived from the RiverPACE project highlights the Clark Fork River as one of the ecosystems included in the national PPCPs database with a lowest risk for human health.

Wild Trout Recovery Shows Effectiveness of 20 years of Blackfoot River Basin Restoration Efforts

Ron Pierce, Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks
Jack Landers, University of Montana - Missoula

12:00 PM - 2:00 PM

To recover wild trout populations in Montana’s Blackfoot River, stream restoration efforts began in 1990 to improve degraded stream habitats. About 30 high priority tributaries received various combinations of channel reconstruction, instream habitat structures, instream flow restoration, fish ladders and screens , and modification of grazing practices. To assess the effectiveness of these efforts, wild trout abundance in 18 of the streams was monitored for a minimum of 5 years post-restoration from 1989 and 2010. Before restoration, average trout abundance was significantly lower in the degraded streams when compared to reference sites. But only 3 years after restoration, trout abundance had increased and was no longer significantly different from the reference sites. In 15 of the streams, trout abundance continued to improve over 5 to 20 years after restoration. In 3 streams abundance declined due to the return of heavy riparian grazing and detrimental irrigation practices. Trout responded more quickly using restoration techniques that emphasized irrigation and instream flow techniques and more slowly for streams that required full channel reconstruction. Native trout responded more strongly to restoration efforts in the upper basin compared to the lower basin. Long-term monitoring (1988-2014) shows increases native trout numbers throughout the main stem river.

Trait characteristics as determinants of metal exposure and uptake for stream invertebrates in the Clark Fork River, MT

Terry Short, U.S. Geological Survey
Michelle Hornberger, U.S. Geological Survey

12:00 PM - 2:00 PM

Relations between whole-body metal concentrations and species traits were examined for 40 invertebrate taxa in the middle and upper reaches of the Clark Fork River drainage to determine 1) the extent to which trait-based characteristics accounted for species-specific differences in metal exposure and uptake, and 2) which traits were most effective in identifying exposure pathways and predicting uptake potential. Traits represent the functional attributes of a species and include morphological, physiological, behavioral, and ecological characteristics. Traits related to developmental strategies (e.g., generations per year) and habitat use (e.g., fluvial and substrate preferences) generally were poor predictors of metal bioaccumulation. In contrast, metal uptake was positively related to traits characterizing chemical and physical stressor tolerances. Comparison of feeding trait affinities and metal bioaccumulation patterns showed that feeding behavior was the strongest predictor of metal uptake among the traits examined. Metal concentrations increased in taxa relying on filtering (feeding on suspended particulate organic matter) or gathering (feeding on deposited particulate organic matter) as part (>40%) of their food acquisition strategy. In contrast, concentrations decreased as predation assumed a greater proportion of overall feeding activity. Application of trait characteristics as predictive tools may help identify taxa that may be at greatest risk in metal-disturbed environments and, accordingly, the most sensitive indicators of ecosystem recovery following remediation.

Algal response to reductions in nutrient loading in the Clark Fork River

Michael Suplee, Montana Department of Environmental Quality
Vicki J. Watson, University of Montana - Missoula
Morgan Vinyard, University of Montana - Missoula

12:00 PM - 2:00 PM

In the 1980s, much of the Clark Fork River was impaired by nuisance algae as a result of excess nutrients. By the 1990s, stakeholders developed a Voluntary Nutrient Reduction Plan (VNRP) which was accepted as meeting the requirement for a TMDL. The goals of the VNRP were to reduce loads of Total Nitrogen (TN) and Total Phosphorus (TP) to the river, reduce instream nutrient levels to summer targets, which are below nutrient saturation breakpoints, and to reduce algae levels (Chlorophyll a and Ash-free dry mass) to summer targets. In 2004, the Missoula Wastewater Treatment Plant (the river’s largest point source of nutrients) received a major upgrade, and by 2010 nutrient reduction procedures there became more consistent and reliable. Over the past 30 years, TN and TP loads to the river from the Missoula WWTP have been reduced by 70 and 85% respectively, even as the number of households and businesses served have increased by 14%.

A study of 17 years of summer data from 1998-2014, covering 383 km of the Clark Fork, shows that nutrient reduction efforts have produced improvements at some sites, and have at least prevented significant increases in algal and nutrient levels elsewhere. Despite a 20% increase in population in Missoula over the decade of the VNRP, TP and TN loads have decreased due to improvements in the town’s wastewater treatment plant. TP concentrations downstream of the WWTP fell below the VNRP target of 39 μg/l, and TN concentrations met targets of 300 μg/l by 2007. The study found that, in order to control nuisance algae levels, nutrient levels should be decreased below saturation breakpoints or even to natural background levels.

Flathead Valley Deep Aquifer development and implications for surface water

John Wheaton, Montana Bureau of Mines and Geology - Ground Water Investigation Program
James Rose, Montana Bureau of Mines and Geology - Ground Water Investigation Program

12:00 PM - 2:00 PM

Population in the Flathead Valley is about 70,000, an increase of more than 25 percent in the last decade. Residents, except for the town of Whitefish, rely on groundwater, primarily from the deep aquifer. The deep aquifer is the most utilized aquifer in the valley, supplying high-capacity municipal and irrigation wells in addition to thousands of domestic wells. The deep aquifer is a thick deposit of gravel and sand, the top of which is 75 to over 400 feet deep and separated from shallow units and the land surface by a thick confining unit. The overlying confining bed is extremely effective at isolating hydrologic stresses in some areas, but not all. Continued growth and localized water-level declines in the deep aquifer have raised concerns about sustainability of the aquifer. Groundwater flow is toward Flathead Lake and flow to the lake is suggested but no direct connection has been confirmed. The degree of connection determines the potential for impact to the Lake by groundwater pumping. Due to the thick confining unit, the degree of groundwater/surface-water connection, if present, is not well understood.

This presentation will focus on hydrologic characteristics of the confining unit and potential interconnection between the deep groundwater flow system and Flathead Lake. The discussion will include geology, aquifer testing, water chemistry, hydraulic characteristics and spatial extent of the confining unit, and water level correlations between the Lake and the deep aquifer.