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Kootenai - Fisher TMDL Project

Page history last edited by Christina Staten 8 years, 10 months ago Saved with comment

Project Contacts     Project Outreach     Documents


Page Contents 


Project Location & Included Streams


The Kootenai – Fisher TMDL project area encompasses the entire Fisher River watershed and a portion of the Kootenai River watershed. Majority of the project area is contained in Lincoln County, and includes the Town of Troy and the City of Libby (Map 1). A very small portion of the project area lies in Flathead County. 


Total maximum daily loads (TMDLs) were written for seven streams in the project area (Table 1). Click on the waterbody names in the table to view water quality summaries and to link to location maps and full water quality assessment records for each waterbody. This information and Montana's full Water Quality Integrated Report containing the list of impaired waters is available at DEQ's Clean Water Information Act Center


Note that the Kootenai River was not included in this project. It is on Montana’s list of impaired waters with a temperature impairment; however this impairment will not be addressed until after 2014. 


Map 1: Location & Boundaries of the Kootenai - Fisher TMDL Project Area

(Click on map to enlarge)



Table 1: Streams Included in this Project & TMDLs Written


Stream & Location Description

(Click Waterbody Name)








TMDLs 3 

Fisher River

Fisher River

Silver Butte/Pleasant Valley junction to mouth (Kootenai River)

No TMDLs Written.

The Fisher River was sampled for metals and was determined not to be impaired for a metal.

Raven Creek

Headwaters to mouth (Pleasant Valley Fisher River)





Wolf Creek

Headwaters to mouth (Fisher River)





Kootenai River

Big Cherry Creek

Snowshoe Creek to mouth (Libby Creek)

Cd, Pb, Zn




Bristow Creek

Headwaters to the mouth at Lake Koocanusa

No TMDLs Written.

Bristow Creek was sampled for nutrients and sediment and was determined not to be impaired for these pollutants.

Lake Creek

Bull Lake outlet to mouth (Kootenai River)

Cu, Pb




Libby Creek

Just above Howard Creek to the Hwy 2 bridge

No TMDLs Written.

This segment of Libby Creek was sampled for both metals and sediment and was determined not to be impaired for these pollutants.

Libby Creek

Hwy 2 bridge to mouth (Kootenai River)





Quartz Creek

Headwaters to confluence with Kootenai River

No TMDLs Written.

Quartz Creek was sampled for sediment and was determined not to be impaired for sediment.

Snowshoe Creek

Cabinet Wilderness boundary to mouth (Big Cherry Creek)

As, Cd, Pb, Zn




Stanley Creek

Headwaters to mouth (Lake Creek)

Cu, Pb, Zn




1. Specific metals TMDLs are identified (As = arsenic, Cd = cadmium, Cu = copper, Pb = lead, Zn = zinc)

2. Specific nutrient TMDLs are identified (TP = total phosphorus, NO2+3 = nitrite + nitrate as N)

3. “X” indicates a TMDL was written




Project Purpose


This project was not part of, or a result of, the superfund clean-up operations for the W.R. Grace vermiculite mine and asbestos contamination in Libby. For information regarding the superfund project, please see EPA’s Libby Asbestos webpage. This project is also not related to the permitting or development of an environmental impact statement for the Montanore Mine.


The state of Montana monitors its waters and conducts water quality assessments to determine if waterbodies are supporting their designated uses. Waterbodies in the state of Montana have been classified to designate what beneficial uses they must support. All waterbodies in the Kootenai-Fisher TMDL Project area must be maintained suitable to support the uses of: agricultural, industrial, recreational, and drinking water uses, as well as support of fish and aquatic life. Waters that are determined not to be supporting their designated uses are called impaired and are placed on Montana’s list of impaired waters. Impaired waterbodies and their associated probable causes and sources of impairment are published within Montana’s biennial Water Quality Integrated Report


Montana’s state law, and the federal Clean Water Act that was established by Congress in 1972, require development of total maximum daily loads (TMDLs) for all waterbodies impaired by a pollutant (e.g., metals, nutrients, sediment, temperature). A TMDL is the maximum amount of a pollutant that a waterbody can receive and still meet water quality standards (think of a TMDL as a loading rate). TMDL development includes four main steps:

  • Further characterizing the impaired waterbody’s existing water quality conditions and comparing those conditions to Montana’s water quality standards. During this step, measurable target values are set to help evaluate the stream’s condition in relation to the applicable water quality standards.
  • Quantifying the magnitude of the pollutant contribution from each significant source
  • Determining the total allowable load of the pollutant to the waterbody (i.e., the TMDL)
  • Allocating the total allowable pollutant load into individual loads for each significant source (referred to as load allocations for nonpoint sources and wasteload allocations for point sources)

The "Kootenai-Fisher Project Area Metals, Nutrients, Sediment, and Temperature TMDLs and Water Quality Improvement Plan" was published for this project in 2014 and includes information and results from each of these four steps. Sections 9, 10, and 11 of the document include recommended land management activities for improving water quality in this project area, and a monitoring strategy to evaluate progress toward attainment of water quality standards.


The TMDL planning process for this project incorporated a combination of water quality sampling and hydrologic modeling to further identify and quantify metals, nutrient, sediment, and temperature contributions from all significant sources to the streams identified in Table 1 above. For more information about the development of TMDLs, please see the What is a TMDL? page on this site or download our pamphlet: Understanding the TMDL Process (580 kb).



Kootenai - Fisher TMDL Document & Restoration Information


Metals, nutrients, sediment, and temperature TMDLs were completed for streams within the Kootenai River and Fisher River watersheds (Table 1) in May of 2014. The "Kootenai-Fisher Project Area Metals, Nutrients, Sediment, and Temperature TMDLs and Water Quality Improvement Plan" is located on DEQ's Final TMDL Documents webpage. Copies of the document are also available at the Libby and Troy public libraries and at the state library in Helena. Many comments were received on the document during the public comment period and responses to those comments are contained in Appendix I. 


Land management activities that may improve water quality in the Kootenai River watershed and a monitoring strategy to evaluate progress toward attainment of water quality standards are outlined in Sections 9, 10, and 11 of the document. A summary of possible funding sources for restoration projects is also contained in Section 10 of the document. For technical assistance with project planning and help with obtaining funds, contact Eric Trum in DEQ's Nonpoint Source Program (etrum@mt.gov or 406-444-0531). Additionally, if you would like to become involved with current restoration projects and watershed planning, contact the Kootenai River Network, a non-profit organization that works to create partnerships with private and public interests dedicated to the protection, use, restoration, and education of water resources in the Kootenai River watershed. 



Project Planning Documents & Sampling Data


Project planning documents, water quality data, and data summary reports are located on the Kootenai - Fisher TMDL Documents page. 


Project status updates and announcements that were posted during the project are still available on the Kootenai-Fisher TMDL Project Outreach page, as well as copies of presentations that were given at watershed advisory group meetings and public meetings. 


Project Contacts


This project was a joint effort between the Montana Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) and the Montana Office of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). See the Kootenai-Fisher TMDL Project Contacts page for additional contact information and links to other organizations involved with water quality improvement in the watershed.







Christina Staten


Project Coordinator


(406) 444-2836

Lou Volpe


Project Manager for the metals TMDLs


(406) 444-6742

Lisa Kusnierz


Project Manager for the nutrients, sediment, & temperature TMDLs


(406) 457-5001

Eric Trum


Robert Ray


DEQ Nonpoint Source Program

Contact Eric or Robert for information & assistance on implementing water quality improvement projects




(406) 444-0531


(406) 444-5319



Page Released: March 19, 2012

Last Updated: July 25, 2014