• If you are citizen of an European Union member nation, you may not use this service unless you are at least 16 years old.

  • Stop wasting time looking for files and revisions! Dokkio, a new product from the PBworks team, integrates and organizes your Drive, Dropbox, Box, Slack and Gmail files. Sign up for free.


Otter Creek TMDL Project Outreach and Updates

Page history last edited by Christina Staten 3 years, 12 months ago Saved with comment

Otter Creek TMDL Project Home Page

Documents     FAQs     Contacts

Sign-up for Updates!

Page Contents:


Announcements & Updates

April 4, 2016

DEQ continues to work on preparing responses to all public comments received on the draft iron TMDL document. Current focus is on a Northern Cheyenne Tribe public comment concerning compliance with their EPA-approved downstream water quality standards on the Tongue River within the Northern Cheyenne Reservation. EPA and DEQ have initiated discussions with the tribe to ensure correct application of their standards within the Otter Creek iron TMDL.


Additionally, DEQ is aware of the suspended nature of the Otter Creek Coal Mine permitting activities. Given the nearly complete status of the TMDL document, the ability to collaborate on water quality standards implementation with the Northern Cheyenne Tribe, and TMDL schedule requirements in state law, it is DEQ's goal to continue working on this TMDL through completion. Additional updates will be posted as we make progress toward a completed document. 

January 12, 2016

DEQ is in the process of preparing responses to comments received during the public comment period, and making related document edits. After completion of this public comment phase, the document will be submitted to the U.S. EPA for approval, and the EPA must approve the document before it is considered final. The public comments and DEQ's responses to them will be contained in an appendix to the EPA-submittal document and the final document. A notice will be posted on this page when the final document is available on DEQ's Final TMDL Documents webpage. 

October 23, 2015 The presentation given at both public meetings this week is available in the "Meetings & Presentations" table further down on this page. Please contact Christina Staten (CStaten@mt.gov, 406-444-2836) if you have trouble downloading the presentation or need a smaller file size. 
September 30, 2015

The draft "Otter Creek Iron Total Maximum Daily Load" document is available for public comment from October 1, 2015 until 5:00 p.m. Friday, October 30, 2015. The document and instructions for submitting comments can be found on DEQ's Public Comment webpage. Please contact Christina Staten (CStaten@mt.gov, 406-444-2836) if you have any questions or trouble accessing the document. 


Two public meetings will be held to discuss the document and answer questions.

The first will be:

Wednesday, October 21, 2015 at 5:30 p.m. at Miles Community College (2715 Dickinson St., Miles City) 


The second will be:

Thursday, October 22, 2015 at 10:00 a.m. at the Bureau of Land Management's Billings Field Office (5001 Southgate Drive, Billings)


Please see the public notice for additional details.

August 27, 2015 A draft of the Otter Creek Iron TMDL document is posted on the Documents page for the Otter Creek Watershed TMDL Advisory Group's review and comment. Advisory group members are requested to submit comments by Thursday, September 10, 2015.
May 11, 2015

The presentation given at the May 5 meeting in Ashland is available for download in the "Meetings & Presentations" table below. 

A draft implementation procedure for the site-specific salinity standards for Otter Creek will be available in the next few weeks. Once the document is available, DEQ's Water Quality Standards staff will be scheduling meetings in various locations to present the procedure and discuss concerns. Contact Amy Steinmetz (406-444-0371) for additional information. 

June 3, 2014

The salinity model has been completed. Details of the model's results and information on plans to develop site-specific EC and SAR standards for Otter Creek can be found on the Project Home Page and on the FAQ page. DEQ does not currently have an anticipated schedule for completion of a draft TMDL document, as the schedule will largely be driven by development of the salinity site-specific standards. DEQ is also continuing work on development of an iron TMDL. The next advisory group meeting will include a discussion of the modeling results and the next steps for TMDL and site-specific standards development. Advisory group members will be notified when a meeting date has been set.

March 19, 2014

DEQ is continuing to work on the salinity model for the Otter Creek watershed. We do not have an anticipated date for completing the draft TMDL document, but are aiming to have a draft version available before the end of the year.


The 2014 Water Quality Integrated Report (IR) is available for public comment until 5 p.m. Friday, April 25, 2014, if you would like to submit comments on the proposed removal of the sediment impairment for Otter Creek. The draft IR and information on submitting comments can be found on DEQ's Clean Water Act Information Center.

December 17, 2013

Otter Creek Sediment Impairment:

DEQ has conducted an evaluation of existing sediment conditions in Otter Creek and is proposing to remove the sediment impairment for Otter Creek from Montana's list of impaired waters. A "Sediment Beneficial Use Support Assessment for Otter Creek" has been posted to the Documents page that details a weight of evidence approach taken by DEQ examining suspended sediment concentrations and discharge rates in Otter Creek.


Draft TMDL Document:

A draft version of Section 2.0 of the TMDL document has also been posted to the Documents page for advisory group review and comment. This contains a general description of the Otter Creek watershed.


Otter Creek FAQs:

Muliple updates have been made to the FAQ page.

October 23, 2013

The iron data collected in June and August of this year is now available on the Otter Creek Documents page. Reports and data being used to evaluate the sediment impairment have also been posted to Documents page.


DEQ intends to hold an advisory group meeting in the next couple of months to present information on how the TMDLs are being developed. A meeting date has not been set. Additional information will be posted once meeting plans are in place.

July 29, 2013


A list of frequently asked questions has been posted on the FAQ page.


Two rounds of sampling to collect iron water quality data were planned for this year. The first event took place at the beginning of June and the second event is planned for this week. View the sampling and analysis plan (1.17 MB) to see sampling locations and the parameters being collected. The results will be posted once they have been received from the lab and have undergone a thorough quality assurance review.

June 11, 2013 The presentation from the June 6 stakeholder meeting has been posted in the "Meetings & Presentations" table below.

June 5, 2013

Pages for the Otter Creek TMDL project have been released on this site. Pages are still under development, and additional information will be posted in the coming weeks.


The first TMDL stakeholder meeting is being held tomorrow, June 6, at 5:30 p.m. in the Soaring Eagle Auditorium of the St. Labre Indian School in Ashland, MT. See the meeting agenda for additional details. Please note that this is not a public hearing and DEQ is not taking public comments related to the environmental impact statement for, or the permitting of, the proposed Otter Creek Coal, LLC coal mine.


Mailing List & General TMDL Information


Get Added to our Mailing List

If you would like to receive periodic updates on this project (by email or postal mail), please contact Christina Staten, the TMDL project coordinator (cstaten@mt.gov, 406-444-2836) or use our Sign-Up for Updates page. Everyone on our mailing list will be notified when the draft TMDL document is available for public comment, including information on a public meeting that will be held during the public comment period. We anticipate having a draft document available for public comment in 2014. 

Information on permitting of the proposed Otter Creek Coal, LLC coal mine and development of the associated environmental impact statement (EIS) can be found on DEQ's Otter Creek Project webpage. Contact Kristi Ponozzo (406-444-2813 , kponozzo@mt.gov) for questions related to the EIS and permitting processes.


TMDL Pamphlet

DEQ created a TMDL pamphlet (0.5 MB) that provides a brief overview of the TMDL process, and explains why we write TMDLs and what happens once TMDLs are completed. If you would like a hard copy, please contact Christina Staten (cstaten@mt.gov, 406-444-2836).



Meetings & Presentations 



June 6, 2013

DEQ held a stakeholder meeting in Ashland to provide an overview of the Otter Creek TMDL project, iron and sediment sampling plans, and the water quality modeling process for salinity. Dean Yashan, Kristy Fortman, Erik Makus, and Christina Staten each gave a portion of the presentation.

The presentation is available for download as one file (labeled "Composite"), or in multiple files for faster downloading. 

June 6, 2013 Full Presentation (Composite) (5.78 MB)


Separate Portions of the Presentation:

Otter Creek TMDL Project Introduction (1.63 MB)

Iron & Sediment Water Quality Data (2.56 MB)

Salinity Water Quality Data & Water Quality Model (0.9 MB)

Next Steps & Overview of Project Website (0.99 MB)


Meeting Agenda


May 5, 2015

DEQ held a stakeholder meeting in Ashland to present the results of the salinity model, and provide updates on the salinity TMDL, site-specific salinity standards for Otter Creek, and the iron TMDL.

May 5, 2015 Presentation (5.84 MB)


Meeting Agenda

October 21, 2015 (Miles City)

October 22, 2015 (Billings)


Two public meetings were held to answer questions about the draft Otter Creek Iron Total Maximum Daily load document.

Iron TMDL Public Meeting Presentation (2.68 MB)



Stakeholder Participation & Outreach Strategy

(You may also download the Outreach Strategy (0.01 MB))


Montana state law (75-5-703 & 704, Montana Code Annotated) requires DEQ to consult with local conservation districts and to request participation of representatives of applicable interest groups to work in an advisory capacity to DEQ and the conservation districts during the development of TMDLs.


As such, DEQ formed a watershed advisory group (WAG) for the Otter Creek TMDL project. The goal is to maintain a manageable and efficient feedback process by selecting a limited number of advisory group members who can represent their applicable interest group by attending meetings, reviewing provided information, disseminating information to the group of people that they represent, and subsequently obtaining feedback that can be passed on to DEQ project staff. The WAG includes representatives from the following interest groups:

  • livestock-oriented agriculture
  • farming-oriented agriculture
  • conservation or environmental interests
  • municipalities 
  • affected or potentially affected point source dischargers;
  • mining
  • existing local watershed groups
  • federal land management agencies
  • state trust land management agencies
  • tourism industry 
  • fishing-related businesses


Description of Advisory Group & Interested Parties

A description of the role of the watershed advisory group is given below. All advisory group members participate at their discretion.


Watershed Advisory Group (WAG)

Representatives of applicable interest groups were requested to work with DEQ and the Powder River and Rosebud Conservation Districts (CDs) in an advisory capacity. The WAG also includes Northern Cheyenne tribal representatives, representatives from state and federal agencies, local resource professionals, and members of local government. Comment opportunities are obtained from the WAG at varying stages of TMDL development, including opportunities for review of the draft TMDL document prior to the public comment period. During TMDL development, meetings and other forms of interaction are pursued by DEQ, when appropriate, to obtain timely WAG advice and comments. However, DEQ maintains responsibility for technical decisions applied toward TMDL development. Because the WAG provides a consultation role, there is no need for a WAG chairman or similar formalities.  


The DEQ Project Coordinator, Christina Staten, is responsible for WAG formation and is the primary contact regarding WAG meeting coordination.


Interested Parties

Interested parties have requested to be informed and/or involved in the TMDL process. The DEQ Project Coordinator will add them to a distribution list to be kept informed of public meetings. Interested parties will also receive general TMDL schedule updates to be kept aware of project progress and completion status. Anyone interested in the Otter Creek TMDLs may request to be added to the interested parties list by contacting the DEQ Project Coordinator or Project Managers.


How Information will be Disseminated

DEQ will maintain contact with and provide TMDL updates to the Powder River and Rosebud Conservation Districts, the watershed advisory group, interested parties, and the public in a variety of ways. Methods are summarized below.


Otter Creek TMDL Project Website

DEQ maintains this site with information dedicated to specific TMDL projects that are under development. Pages for the Otter Creek TMDLs include a project description and location maps; project contact information; status/schedule updates; notices of advisory group meetings and public meetings; copies of meeting agendas, presentations, and handouts; Otter Creek water quality data and source assessment reports; and other pertinent project information. The Otter Creek TMDL project pages are available to advisory group members, interested parties, and the public.


TMDL Advisory Group Meetings & Email Distribution List

DEQ will maintain contact with the conservation districts and advisory group members via email and through advisory group meetings providing updates on TMDL progress and addressing questions. Draft TMDL document pieces will be posted on the Otter Creek TMDL website for advisory group review and comment. Members will be notified via email when documents are available for their review and comment.


Interested Parties Email Distribution List

DEQ will keep interested parties apprised of the project’s schedule via periodic project status update emails.


Public Meeting

For all TMDLs developed, a public meeting will be held during the public comment period of document completion. All advisory group members, CD representatives, and interested parties will be notified of this meeting via email or postal service. A public notice will also be posted in local newspapers, on the DEQ website, and on this site.



Project Contacts 






Project Coordinator

Christina Staten


(406) 444-2836

Project Manager: Iron TMDL

Dean Yashan


(406) 444-5317

Project Manager: Salinity TMDL,

Project Modeler

Erik Makus


(406) 444-2459

Lead for Site-Specific Salinity Standards Development Amy Steinmetz ASteinmetz@mt.gov (406) 444-0371


A full list of contacts can be found on the Otter Creek TMDL Project Contacts page. 



Click on the Adobe Reader icon if you need to download the free Adobe Acrobat software to view the PDF documents on this page.


Page Released: June 5, 2013

Last Updated: April 4, 2016