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Flathead TMDL Project Overview and Maps

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Welcome to the Flathead TMDL Project

 Draft Document     Contacts     Project Outreach     Nutrient TMDLs     Sediment & Temperature TMDLs

 

Page Contents  



 

How the Flathead TMDL Project Pages are Organized

 

This site was started in 2008 when final work toward developing the TMDLs in the Flathead-Stillwater TMDL Planning Area (Table 1 below) began. Therefore, the majority of the Flathead project pages on this site are dedicated to the nutrient, sediment, and temperature TMDLs that were completed for the Flathead-Stillwater TMDL project in 2014 (Table 3 below). This page, however, provides an overview of all TMDL-related work that has taken place in the Flathead River watershed, and also provides information on possible future TMDL work in the watershed. 

 


 

Flathead TMDL Project Locations & Boundaries

 

 

For total maximum daily load (TMDL) planning and development purposes, DEQ divided the Flathead River watershed into what are defined as TMDL planning areas. Map 1 delineates six planning area boundaries and Table 1 provides a description of each planning area. It is important to understand these delineations, as the TMDL projects and corresponding documents have been organized by these boundaries. 

 

Map 1: TMDL Planning Areas in the Flathead River Watershed

(Click on map to enlarge

TMDL Planning Areas in the Flathead River Watershed

 

Table 1: TMDL Planning Areas in the Flathead River Watershed 

TMDL Planning Area

Boundary Description

Big Creek

The Big Creek watershed (shown in dark brown on Map 1), a tributary to the North Fork of the Flathead River, defines the boundary of this planning area. 

Flathead Headwaters

The headwater streams of the Flathead River to the formation of the Flathead River create the boundary of this planning area. This includes the Middle, South, and North forks of the Flathead River and Hungry Horse Reservoir.

Flathead – Stillwater

This planning area contains:

  • The Flathead River from its formation to its confluence with Flathead Lake,
  • Tributaries to the Flathead River above Flathead Lake,
  • Whitefish Lake

Flathead Lake

Shown in white on Map 1, the Flathead Lake TMDL Planning Area includes the lake itself, plus direct tributaries to the lake, outside of the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribe lands (the Flathead Reservation is shown in light green on Map 1). The Flathead Reservation creates the southern boundary of the planning area.

Swan

The entire Swan River watershed, a direct tributary to Flathead Lake, including Swan Lake.

Lower Flathead

This planning area includes the Flathead River from the southern boundary of the Flathead Reservation to the confluence with the Clark Fork River, shown in dark teal on Map 1. It also includes the area of the Little Bitterroot River watershed outside of the Flathead Reservation (also shown in dark teal on Map 1).

 

 

The Flathead TMDL projects have focused on areas within the U.S. portion of the Flathead Lake watershed. Map 2 below provides an orientation of the Flathead Lake watershed boundary, which originates in Canada. Map 3 displays the various land ownership designations in the watershed. 

 

Map 2: Location Map of the Flathead Lake Watershed  

(Click map to enlarge)

Map 3: Land Ownership and Major Streams and Lakes in the Flathead Lake Watershed 

(Click map to enlarge) 

Location of the Flathead Lake Watershed  Land Ownership in the Flathead Lake Watershed 

 


 

Completed TMDLs

 

Many TMDLs have been written in the Flathead River watershed. Tables 2 and 3 provide a list of the completed TMDLs and web links to their associated documents.

 

Table 2: Completed TMDLs in the Flathead River Watershed

TMDL Planning Area

Waterbody & Location Description

(Click Waterbody Name to View Map)

Nutrient

TMDLs1

Metal

TMDLs2

Sediment

TMDL

Document Name & Completion Year

Big Creek

Big Creek

Headwaters to mouth (North Fork of the Flathead River)

 

 

Sediment

2003 “Watershed Restoration Plan for Big Creek, North Fork of the Flathead River” *

 

*The TMDL Document is found under “Big Creek (Columbia)" in the alphabetical list of TMDL documents on DEQ's website

 

2011 “Big Creek Sediment TMDL Implementation Evaluation” 3

Flathead

Headwaters

Coal Creek

South Fork to mouth (North Fork Flathead)

 

 

Sediment

2004 “Water Quality Assessment and TMDLs for the Flathead River Headwaters Planning Area, Montana” *

 

* The TMDL document is found under "Flathead River Headwaters" in the alphabetical list of TMDL documents on DEQ's website

Flathead

Lake

Flathead Lake

TN, TP 4

 

 

2001 “Nutrient Management Plan & Total Maximum Daily Load for Flathead Lake, Montana” *

 

* The TMDL document is found under "Flathead Lake" in the alphabetical list of TMDL documents on DEQ's website

Flathead - Stillwater See Table 3 below 2014 "Flathead-Stillwater Planning Area Nutrient, Sediment, and Temperature TMDLs and Water Quality Improvement Plan"

Lower Flathead

Little Bitterroot River

Hubbart Reservoir to Flathead Reservation Boundary 

TN, TP

 

Sediment

2014 “Thompson Project Area Metals, Nutrients, Sediment, and Temperature TMDLs and Water Quality Improvement Plan”

 

Additional information can be found on the Thompson Project Page.

Sullivan Creek

Headwaters to Flathead Indian Reservations 

TN, TP

Al, Cd, Cu, Zn

Sediment

Swan

Goat Creek

Headwaters to Squeezer Creek

 

 

TSS

2004 “Water Quality Protection Plan and TMDLs for the Swan Lake Watershed” *

 

* The TMDL document is found under "Swan Lake Watershed" in the alphabetical list of TMDL documents on the DEQ website

Jim Creek

Mission Mountains Wilderness boundary to mouth (Swan River)

 

 

Sediment

Swan Lake

TN, TP

 

Sediment

1. TN = total nitrogen TMDL was written, TP = total phosphorus TMDL was written

2. Al = aluminum, Cd= cadmium, Cu = copper, Zn = zinc, TMDLs were written

3. The 2011 TMDL implementation evaluation for Big Creek concluded that a reassessment of beneficial use impairment was warranted, and sedimentation/siltation was removed as a cause of impairment for Big Creek in 2012. Big Creek remains on the impaired waters list, however, as not fully supporting aquatic life with a probable cause of habitat alteration.

4. Phase I of nutrient TMDLs was completed in 2001, which provided a total nitrogen and total phosphorus load reduction goal and a prioritized nutrient management plan for Flathead Lake and the broader Flathead Basin. Refinement of the TN and TP allocations will occur in Phase II, which has not begun.

 

 

Flathead-Stillwater TMDL Planning Area TMDLs

The "Flathead - Stillwater Planning Area Nutrient, Sediment, and Temperature TMDLs and Water Quality Improvement Plan" (if clicking on this link: then click "Browse Alphabetically" under "TMDL Documents") was approved by the U.S. EPA in Denver on December 17, 2014. The document includes completed nutrient, sediment, and temperature TMDLs for the tributaries shown in Table 3 and Map 4 below. Copies of the final TMDL document are available at the Big Fork, Columbia Falls, Kalispell, Missoula, Polson, and Whitefish public libraries. A public informational meeting to review the draft document was held October 30, 2014 at the Red Lion Hotel in Kalispell, and the presentation given at the meeting is available for download on the Flathead Project Outreach page. 

 

Additional Project Information

 

Table 3: TMDLs Written for the Flathead-Stillwater TMDL Planning Area in 2014

Waterbody & Location Description

(Click Waterbody Name to View Map)

Nutrient

TMDL(s) 1

Sediment

TMDL 2

Temperature

TMDL 2

Ashley Creek

Ashley Lake to Smith Lake

TN

X

X

Ashley Creek

Smith Lake to Kalispell Airport Road

TN, TP

X

X

Ashley Creek

Kalispell Airport Road to mouth (Flathead River)

TN, TP

X

Logan  Creek

Headwaters to Tally Lake

 

X

 

Haskill Creek

Haskill Basin Pond to mouth (Whitefish River)

 

X

 

Sheppard Creek

Headwaters to mouth (Griffin Creek)

 

X

 

Spring Creek

Headwaters to mouth (Ashley Creek)

TN, TP

 

 

Stillwater River

Logan Creek to mouth (Flathead River)

 

X

 

Whitefish River

Whitefish Lake to mouth (Stillwater River)

 

 

X

1. TN = Total Nitrogen TMDL was written, TP = Total Phosphorus TMDL was written

2. “X” indicates a TMDL was written

 

 

Map 4: Streams in the Flathead-Stillwater TMDL Planning Area with Nutrient, Sediment, and/or Temperature TMDLs

(Click on map to enlarge)

Flathead-Stillwater TMDL Planning Area Map

 


 

Future TMDLs & Associated Data

 

Table 4 below identifies waterbodies in the Flathead River watershed with pollutant impairments that will be addressed in future work; timeframes for these projects have not been established. Refer to Map 1 above for locations of the TMDL planning area given in the table below. 

 

Table 4: Impairments to be Addressed Post 2014

TMDL Planning Area

Waterbody & Location Description

(Click Waterbody Name to View Map)

Pollutant Impairments

Flathead Lake

Flathead Lake

Total Nitrogen (Phase II)

Total Phosphorus (Phase II)

Mercury

PCBs

Flathead – Stillwater

Spring Creek

Headwaters to mouth (Ashley Creek)

Arsenic

Whitefish Lake

Mercury

PCBs

Whitefish River

Whitefish Lake to mouth (Stillwater River)

Oil and Grease

PCBs

Lower Flathead

Flathead River

Flathead Reservation boundary to mouth (Clark Fork River)

Nitrate/Nitrite

Total Nitrogen

Total Phosphorus

Sediment

Temperature

 

 

Flathead Lake Nutrient TMDLs

Of the impairments in Table 4 above, two already have TMDLs: total nitrogen and total phosphorus TMDLs were written for Flathead Lake in 2001 (see Table 2 above). This was considered "Phase I" of the Flathead Lake nutrient project. "Phase II" of the Flathead Lake nutrient TMDL project will include refinement of those allocations. Phase II has not begun, however DEQ is in the process of developing numeric nutrient standards for the lake that will inform how the point and nonpoint source allocations may be better refined. See the Flathead Lake Nutrient Standards Development page for additional information, or contact Michael Suplee with questions pertaining to the project (MSuplee@mt.gov, 406-444-0831). 

 

Arsenic, Mercury, & PCB Monitoring

Sampling for arsenic, mercury, and PCBs took place throughout the Flathead Lake watershed from 2012 to 2014 to gain a better understanding of the current status of water quality related to these pollutants. Table 5 below contains the associated sampling plan documents and collected data. Updated water quality assessments for mercury and PCBs have not been performed, however Spring Creek was reassessed for arsenic in 2014 and remains listed with arsenic as impairment for drinking water use.

 

Table 5: Water Quality Data & Sampling Plan Documents

DOCUMENT

DOCUMENT DESCRIPTION

DATE

Flathead-Stillwater TMDL Planning Area Sampling Project – 2012: Nutrients, Metals Sampling and Analysis Plan (SAP) (0.21 MB)

Metals and nutrients monitoring was conducted in 2012 to support TMDL development and water quality impairment determinations. This SAP aimed to meet requirements for the completion of source assessments and loading estimates for nutrients and metals listed streams in the planning area, and to have enough data to assess the streams based on the proposed nutrient criteria and proposed metals assessment method.

 

Monitoring locations, field methods, and data quality assurance requirements are included in the document. Note that some monitoring locations listed in the SAP changed due to difficulties obtaining land access.

May 2012

Final Version

2012 Metals & Nutrients Data:

MS Excel Spreadsheet (1.19 MB)

PDF (0.4 MB)

The metals and nutrients data collected in 2012 according to the above sampling & analysis plan. The spreadsheet contains the data in both a condensed format, as well as an expanded format with all the data attributes. The PDF only contains the condensed version.

2012 Data

2014 Mercury & PCB Sampling & Analysis Plan (~0.8 MB)

This sampling aimed to characterize water quality conditions in waters with a mercury or PCB impairment listing, as well as major tributaries that influence those waters. Additionally, sites were sampled that may be considered representative of reference condition with respect to PCBs and mercury due to lack of apparent sources.

The sampling plan defines the parameters that were collected, and Attachment A contains a table of the sampling locations on Flathead Lake, Whitefish Lake, the Whitefish River, and numerous other streams in the watershed.

2014

Final Version

2014 Mercury & PCB Sampling Summary Report (1.32 MB)

This report summarizes the sampling design plan, sampling and analytical methods used, and the results of DEQ’s PCB and mercury monitoring in sediment and macroinvertebrate tissue in 2014, as well as results of fish tissue sampling conducted by Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks in 2014. The report also summarizes the impairment listing history for these pollutants for Flathead and Whitefish lakes and the Whitefish River, discusses the sources and regulation of PCBs and mercury, and how PCBs and mercury affect the environment.

December 2014

Final

 

Lower Flathead River 

Additional information and data for completed nutrient sampling on the lower Flathead River will be posted soon.

 

 


Project Contacts & Updates

 

The Flathead TMDL Project Contacts page provides a complete list of contacts and information about each project member's role and responsibilities. 

 

See the Flathead TMDL Project Outreach page for project announcements and periodic updates.

 


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Last Updated: October 21, 2019