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White Pine Creek TMDL Project

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White Pine Creek Temperature TMDL Project


Project Documents and Outreach  

Project Location

The White Pine Creek TMDL Project Area is loacted in the Lower Clark Fork Tributaries TMDL Planning Area (TPA) and includes one stream, White Pine Creek (Figure 1). The Project Area is the White Pine Creek watershed, which occupies 28.48 square miles (19,970 acres) in western Montana, near the town of Trout Creek. White Pine Creek is impaired for temperature, for which a TMDL was written in 2014 and published in the "White Pine Creek Temperature TMDL" document.


Figure 1. Location of the White Pine Creek TMDL Project Area  


Project Purpose

The state of Montana monitors its waters and conducts water quality assessments to determine if waterbodies are supporting their designated uses. White Pine Creek is in the B-1 use classification category.


Streams classified B-1 are suitable for drinking, culinary and food processing purposes after conventional treatment, and must be suitable for bathing, swimming, and recreation; growth and propagation of salmonid fishes and associated aquatic life, waterfowl, and furbearers; and agricultural and industrial water supply. Waters that are determined not to be supporting their designated uses are considered 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 (75-5-703), 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:


•Assessing 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 amount 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 "White Pine Creek Temperature TMDL" document published for this project includes information and results from each of these four steps. Section 6.0 of the document also includes 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.


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).



TMDL Document & Monitoring Data

White Pine Creek is listed in the “2014 Water Quality Integrated Report” as not supporting its designated use of aquatic life, due to both sediment and temperature (. The "White Pine Creek Temperature TMDL" document was approved by EPA in November of 2014. In 2010, sediment TMDLs were completed for the Lower Clark Fork Tributaries TMDL Planning Area, which included a sediment TMDL for White Pine Creek, and is published in the "Lower Clark Fork Tributaries Sediment TMDLs and Framework for Water Quality Restoration" TMDL document. 


Table 1. Water Quality Impairment Causes for the White Pine Creek Project Area Addressed Within this Document 

Waterbody & Location Description

TMDL Prepared

TMDL Pollutant Category

Impaired Use(s)

White Pine Creek, headwaters to mouth (Beaver Creek)



Aquatic Life


Temperature data loggers were placed at 11 locations in the White Pine Creek watershed in 2013 to record stream temperature every half hour during the warmest months of the year. Stream flow and riparian shade data was also collected, including vegetation type and density and the amount of shade covering the stream channel. This information is used in a water quality model to estimate thermal loads in the stream. Figure 2 shows the location of the temperature monitoring sites in the White Pine Creek watershed. Appendix B of the 2014  "White Pine Creek Temperature TMDL" document contains the model report. 


Figure 2. Temperature monitoring sites in the White Pine Creek waterhsed





Project Contacts






Project Coordinator and Temperature Project Manager

Eric Sivers



(406) 444-0471


Page Released: August 26, 2014

Last Updated:   August 3, 2015


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