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Jefferson River TMDL Project Area

Page history last edited by Christina Staten 4 years, 5 months ago Saved with comment

Upper Jefferson TMDL Project Home Page

Project Outreach     Completed & Future TMDL Projects

 

Page Contents 



 

Project Location

 

The Jefferson River TMDL Project Area encompasses the entire Jefferson River watershed and lies in west central Montana, situated mainly in Jefferson and Madison counties, with portions in Silver Bow, Gallatin, and Broadwater counties (Map 1). The Jefferson River begins near the town of Twin Bridges at the confluence of the Beaverhead, Big Hole, and Ruby rivers, and flows into the Missouri River near Three Forks, MT. The upper portion of the watershed also includes the towns of Whitehall and Cardwell. 

 

Map 1: Jefferson River TMDL Project Area Boundary

(Click on map to enlarge)

Map of the Jefferson River TMDL Project Area

 


 

Project Purpose

 

Why DEQ Writes TMDLs

The state of Montana monitors its waters and conducts water quality assessments to determine if waterbodies are supporting their designated uses (such as aquatic life; drinking water; and agricultural, industrial, and recreational uses). Each waterbody has a set of designated uses, and Montana has established water quality standards to protect those uses. Waters that are determined not to be supporting one or more of 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 established by Congress in 1972, requires development of total maximum daily loads (TMDLs) for all waterbodies impaired by a pollutant (e.g., metals, nutrients, salinity, 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 Steps & TMDL Document Contents

 

TMDL development includes four main steps:

  • 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 its significant sources
  • Determining the total allowable load of the pollutant to the waterbody (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 TMDL planning process for this project incorporated a combination of water quality sampling and hydrologic modeling to further identify and quantify metals and temperature contributions from all significant sources to the streams identified in Table 1 below. The metals and temperature TMDLs are contained in separate documents, each containing information from the above four steps and also strategies and recommended land management practices for improving water quality. Additional detail about the TMDL development process can be found on the What is a TMDL page on this site. You can also download our pamphlet: Understanding the TMDL Process (580 kb). 

 


 

TMDL Documents & Monitoring Data

 

TMDLs Written in 2014

This 2014 project included the entire Jefferson River and tributaries to the upper segment of the river (headwaters to confluence with the Jefferson Slough) (Table 1), and resulted in two separate TMDL documents (a metals document and a temperature document, both discussed below). Tributaries to the lower segment of the Jefferson River (Jefferson Slough to the confluence with the Missouri River) were not included. Project status updates and information on stakeholder and public meetings that were held for this project are still available on the  Jefferson River TMDL Project Outreach page.

 

Map 2: Included Streams in the Jefferson Metals TMDL Project

(Click on map to enlarge)

Impaired Streams Included in the ProjectTable 1: TMDLs Written in 2014 in the Jefferson River TMDL Project Area

Waterbody Name & Location Description

Waterbody ID

Metals

TMDLs

Temperature

TMDLs

Big Pipestone Creek

headwaters to mouth (Jefferson Slough)

MT41G002_010

Arsenic

 

Jefferson River

headwaters to confluence of Jefferson Slough

MT41G001_011

Iron

Lead

Temperature

Jefferson River

confluence of Jefferson Slough to mouth (Missouri River)

MT41G001_012

Copper

Lead

 

Jefferson Slough

Jefferson River to the mouth (Jefferson River)

MT41G002_170

Arsenic

Cadmium

Copper

Zinc

 

Little Whitetail Creek 1

Whitetail Reservoir to mouth (Whitetail Deer Creek)

MT41G002_140

Aluminum

Copper

Lead

 

Whitetail Deer Creek 1

Headwaters to mouth (Jefferson Slough)

MT41G002_141

Aluminum

Lead

 

1 In error, Little Whitetail Creek and Whitetail Deer Creek have swapped location descriptions in the “2012 Water Quality Integrated Report.” The 2014 integrated report will reflect the above location descriptions.

 

 

Metals TMDL Document

Metals TMDLs were written for the Jefferson River, Jefferson Slough, and multiple tributaries in the upper portion of the Jefferson River watershed in 2014 (Table 1 and Map 2 above), and were published in the"Jefferson River Metals Project Area TMDLs and Water Quality Improvement Plan" document, approved by EPA in December of 2014. Copies of the document are also available at the Butte, Twin Bridges, Whitehall, and Three Forks public libraries and at the Montana State Library in Helena. 

 

Metals Water Quality Data & Impairments

Metals water quality sampling was conducted between 2003 and 2013 on the streams listed in Table 2 below, and samples were analyzed for a full suite of metals parameters. Water quality assessments were recently performed with the data using DEQ’s Metals Assessment Method, and a TMDL was written for all determined metals impairments (fourth column of Table 2 below and Map 2 above). 

 

Table 2: Metals Impairments & Updated Assessment Results

Waterbody Name & Location Description

Waterbody / Assessment Unit ID

Metals Impairments in the 2012 IR

Updated Impairment Status / Impairments for the 2014 IR

Big Pipestone Creek

headwaters to mouth (Jefferson Slough)

MT41G002_010

No metals impairments

Arsenic

Cherry Creek

headwaters to mouth (Jefferson River)

MT41G002_110

Zinc

Not Impaired

Jefferson River

headwaters to confluence of Jefferson Slough

MT41G001_011

Copper

Lead

Iron

Lead

Jefferson River

confluence of Jefferson Slough to mouth (Missouri River)

MT41G001_012

Copper

Lead

Copper

Lead

Jefferson Slough

Jefferson River to the mouth (Jefferson River)

MT41G002_170

Not Assessed

Arsenic

Cadmium

Copper

Zinc

Little Whitetail Creek *

Whitetail Reservoir to mouth (Whitetail Deer Creek)

MT41G002_140

Not Assessed

Dissolved Aluminum

Copper

Lead

Whitetail Deer Creek *

Headwaters to mouth (Jefferson Slough)

MT41G002_141

Aluminum

Copper

Lead

Silver

Dissolved Aluminum

Lead

* In error, Little Whitetail Creek and Whitetail Deer Creek have swapped assessment unit IDs and incorrect location descriptions in the “2012 Water Quality Integrated Report” (IR). Additionally, Whitetail Deer Creek is called “Whitetail Creek” in the 2012 IR. The 2014 IR reflects the above location descriptions and assessment unit IDs.

 

For complete information on each stream’s probable impairments, causes, and sources in the “2012 Water Quality Integrated Report,” see DEQ’s Clean Water Act Information Center. Click on “Search,” choose the “By Location” tab, and then select the Upper Jefferson TMDL Planning Area from the “Select a TPA” drop-down list. You may also search by the Assessment Unit IDs given in the table above.

 

 

Temperature TMDL Document

A temperature TMDL was written for the upper segment of the Jefferson River (headwaters to the confluence of the Jefferson Slough) in 2014. This was part of a separate, but concurrent, project  that also included development of a temperature TMDL for the lower segment of the Beaverhead River. The two TMDLs are contained in the "Lower Beaverhead River and Upper Jefferson River Temperature TMDLs" document that was approved by the U.S. EPA in November of 2014. Additional information can be found on the Beaverhead – Upper Jefferson Temperature TMDL Project page. 

 

The lower segment of the Jefferson River and Big Pipestone Creek, a tributary to the upper segment of the Jefferson River, also have temperature impairments; however they will not being addressed until post 2014.

 

 

Past & Future TMDLs

 Information on water quality impairments in both the upper and lower portions of the watershed that will be addressed after 2014 can be found on the Completed  and Future TMDL Projects in the Jefferson River Watershed page, as well as information on sediment TMDLs that were completed in 2009.

 


 

Project Contacts

 

Role

Contact

Email

Phone

Project Coordinator Christina Staten cstaten@mt.gov (406) 444-2836

Metals Project Manager

Lou Volpe

lvolpe@mt.gov

(406) 444-6742

Temperature Project Manager

Kristy Fortman

kfortman@mt.gov

(406) 444-7425

 


Page Released: December 3, 2013

Last Updated: August 3, 2015