Water-quality trends for selected sampling sites in the upper Clark Fork Basin, Montana, water years 1996-2010

Scientific Investigations Report 2013-5217
By: , and 

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Abstract

A large-scale trend analysis was done on specific conductance, selected trace elements (arsenic, cadmium, copper, iron, lead, manganese, and zinc), and suspended-sediment data for 22 sites in the upper Clark Fork Basin for water years 1996–2010. Trend analysis was conducted by using two parametric methods: a time-series model (TSM) and multiple linear regression on time, streamflow, and season (MLR). Trend results for 1996–2010 indicate moderate to large decreases in flow-adjusted concentrations (FACs) and loads of copper (and other metallic elements) and suspended sediment in Silver Bow Creek upstream from Warm Springs. Deposition of metallic elements and suspended sediment within Warm Springs Ponds substantially reduces the downstream transport of those constituents. However, mobilization of copper and suspended sediment from floodplain tailings and stream banks in the Clark Fork reach from Galen to Deer Lodge is a large source of metallic elements and suspended sediment, which also affects downstream transport of those constituents. Copper and suspended-sediment loads mobilized from within this reach accounted for about 40 and 20 percent, respectively, of the loads for Clark Fork at Turah Bridge (site 20); whereas, streamflow contributed from within this reach only accounted for about 8 percent of the streamflow at Turah Bridge. Minor changes in FACs and loads of copper and suspended sediment are indicated for this reach during 1996–2010.


Clark Fork reaches downstream from Deer Lodge are relatively smaller sources of metallic elements than the reach from Galen to Deer Lodge. In general, small decreases in loads and FACs of copper and suspended sediment are indicated for Clark Fork sites downstream from Deer Lodge during 1996–2010. Thus, although large decreases in FACs and loads of copper and suspended sediment are indicated for Silver Bow Creek upstream from Warm Springs, those large decreases are not translated to the more downstream reaches largely because of temporal stationarity in constituent transport relations in the Clark Fork reach from Galen to Deer Lodge.


Unlike metallic elements, arsenic (a metalloid element) in streams in the upper Clark Fork Basin typically is mostly in dissolved phase, has less variability in concentrations, and has weaker direct relations with suspended-sediment concentrations and streamflow. Arsenic trend results for 1996–2010 indicate generally moderate decreases in FACs and loads in Silver Bow Creek upstream from Opportunity. In general, small temporal changes in loads and FACs of arsenic are indicated for Silver Bow Creek and Clark Fork reaches downstream from Opportunity during 1996–2010. Contribution of arsenic (from Warm Springs Ponds, the Mill-Willow bypass, and groundwater sources) in the Silver Bow Creek reach from Opportunity to Warm Springs is a relatively large source of arsenic. Arsenic loads originating from within this reach accounted for about 11 percent of the load for Clark Fork at Turah Bridge; whereas, streamflow contributed from within this reach only accounted for about 2 percent of the streamflow at Turah Bridge.

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Additional publication details

Publication type Report
Publication Subtype USGS Numbered Series
Title Water-quality trends for selected sampling sites in the upper Clark Fork Basin, Montana, water years 1996-2010
Series title Scientific Investigations Report
Series number 2013-5217
DOI 10.3133/sir20135217
Year Published 2014
Language English
Publisher U.S. Geological Survey
Publisher location Reston, VA
Contributing office(s) Wyoming-Montana Water Science Center
Description xiii, 162 p.
Time Range Start 1995-10-01
Time Range End 2010-09-30
Country United States
State Montana
Other Geospatial Clark Fork Basin
Datum North American Datum of 1927
Projection Universal Transverse Mercator Projection