Many of the Bureau's projects address the effects of agriculture, mining, and urban development on Montana's ground-water resources.The MBMG is conducting several investigations related to specific localities or specific issues statewide. Nitrate in groundwater has become a challenge for new subdivisions and must be addressed separately for each site. Similarly, pharmaceuticals and other chemicals are finding their way from septic tanks to groundwater supplies. New analytical tools such as isotopes and new analytical instruments for organic chemicals are being employed to develop a better understanding of how groundwater can be protected.
Listed below are projects and contact information for project managers.
Yellowstone Controlled Ground-Water Area Long-Term Monitoring — Location: Southwest Montana, near Yellowstone Park — Development of ground-water resources near Yellowstone Park may adversely affect the geothermal resources of the park. In 1994, the State of Montana and the National Park Service established a controlled groundwater area within Montana. Distinctions between man-induced changes and natural processes cannot be made without comprehensive surface-water and groundwater monitoring both inside and outside the Park. Currently there are 16 wells and 11 springs that are being monitored by the Bureau of Mines and Geology within the Controlled Groundwater Area. Water-level, spring discharge, and water-quality data are available through Ground-Water Information Center. Email John LaFave
- Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) Technical Data — Location: Statewide — Farm and ranch operators are continuously seeking new stockwater supplies in the face of changing operation plans, drought, and other factors. At some locations, operators also use flowing artesian wells as water sources. Problems with flowing artesian wells include winterization (so they can be shut in when not in use) and leakage around the casing at the land surface in some cases. The NRCS provides cost share funds through its Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) program to help operators seek new stockwater supplies and repair flowing artesian wells. The EQIP program requires specific technical information regarding potential well depths and field evaluations of uncontrolled flowing artesian wells before cost share funds can be obligated.
The MBMG uses the GWIC database and geologic maps to determine potential aquifers and estimated drilling depths at locations where NRCS cooperators desire to construct stockwater wells. The information is compiled into a short written report that is forwarded to the NRCS field office making the request. At the request of the NRCS, MBMG staff will visit selected flowing artesian wells to record the well’s precise location, measure water-quality parameters, measure discharge, evaluate well-head leakage, and video-log borehole conditions. The field data are compiled and a written report prepared outlining options for rehabilitation or abandonment of the well.
Hydrogeologic data obtained from the well visits and updates to GWIC from other new information are available to the citizens of Montana from the GWIC database. Email John LaFave
- Carbon County — Quantifying alluvial groundwater from irrigation sources and identifying recharge to public water supplies (Jon Reiten). Completed this spring a new project carries on some of this. This new project will be a three year, DNRC RRG funded project scheduled to start January 2014. Email Liddi Meredith
- Cascade County — Madison and overlying aquifer recharge sources. This project will be complete December 2013. Funded by a DNRC RDGP grant. Email Liddi Meredith
- Eastern Montana — Groundwater model of the Fox Hills Aquifer Powder River County—Bedrock contributions to streams and rivers Email Jon Reiten
- Stillwater County — The source of recharge to and the quality of major bedrock aquifer, Three year DNRC RRG funded project scheduled to start January 2014. Email Kevin Chandler