Confluence has been retained to complete an irrigation water management study on Brown’s Gulch near Ramsay, Montana. The purpose of the study is to identify and assess the opportunities for increasing in-stream flows in lower Brown’s Gulch. Environmental goals are to improve fish habitat; mitigate water quality concerns such as temperature, nutrients, and siltation; and improve the efficiency and durability of the irrigation infrastructure. Confluence’s water resources engineer and project manager Ronda Burns, PE, will be collaborating with the private landowner, Watershed Restoration Coalition, the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service, and private groups. Brown’s Gulch is a key tributary to Silver Bow Creek, part of the headwaters of the Clark Fork River.
Confluence has recently been retained by the Montana Department of Transportation (MDT) to carry out a three year term contract for performing wetlands monitoring on MDT’s wetland mitigation sites throughout Montana. Confluence’s Brian Sandefur, based in Bozeman, Montana, will be leading a team of 11 professionals to carry out annual wetland monitoring and reporting on MDT’s 23 wetland mitigation sites across the state. All wetland work tasks will be completed to fulfill U.S. Army Corps of Engineers requirements for documenting success of wetland construction at each site. Annual monitoring reports will be submitted to MDT and posted on their website. Sandefur has delineated and monitored thousands of acres of wetlands and has executed numerous successful mitigation plans. He is an effective team leader and works well with local, state, and federal agencies.
Confluence has been retained to quantify sediment loads from upland sources using GIS and Universal Soil Loss Equation (USLE) modeling strategies in the Boulder-Elkhorn TMDL Planning Area. Confluence has significant experience modeling sediment using GIS based USLE sediment models. We have successfully developed and implemented six watershed scale USLE models to characterize stream sediment: Upper Big Hole, Middle/Lower Big Hole, Jefferson River, Tobacco River, Lower Clark Fork, and Shields River. The models are used to characterize sediment loads and to establish potential load reductions in DEQ’s watershed planning process. DEQ will utilize the model to summarize the extent and effectiveness of existing and/or potential riparian buffer conditions as they relate to various sediment sources unique to land uses within the watershed. Various land use best management practices and other appropriate soil and water conservation practices will be developed.
Confluence has made ongoing progress towards designing rehabilitation plans for Goose Creek, located in the Upper West Branch of Priest River in the Idaho Panhandle. The Kalispell Tribe of Nations retained Confluence earlier this year to develop a conceptual design for restoring 4 miles of Goose Creek. Historic land uses along Goose Creek included channelizing several thousand feet of the creek. The conceptual restoration plan will include restoring the creek to its historic elevation in order to provide improved in-stream habitat and a functional floodplain with dense riparian vegetation. The conceptual plan for this large stream restoration project is expected to be completed in the spring of 2010.
In 2005 in Madison County, Montana, a cooperative effort to restore a wetlands area was initiated by private landowners, state and federal agencies, and local nonprofit organizations. In July 2009, Confluence was retained by Montana Fish, Wildlife, and Parks to monitor the roughly 16 acre wetlands. Confluence staff completed wetland, open water, and vegetative mapping in addition to gathering wetland soils data. Stream monitoring has also taken place to develop a water surface profile. Greater sandhill cranes are known to nest in the area, and Rocky Mountain trumpeter swans winter on the site. Vegetation transects that Confluence has established allow detection of community changes, including status of noxious weed infestations. All of Confluence’s work has been completed in compliance with Corps of Engineers requirements.
Confluence recently completed the construction of two stream restoration projects near Pinedale, Wyoming. Each project involved narrowing existing stream channels using transplanted wetland sod mats and willows to improve fish habitat and sediment transport characteristics. In addition, high quality pool habitat was added to each stream to provide holding water for adult trout and fishing opportunities for anglers. The projects totaled over 2.5 miles of stream channel and were reviewed and approved by Wyoming Game and Fish biologists. Construction and labor were provided by Westslope Restoration, Inc. from Manhattan, Montana.
Before restoration Over-wide channel with a silt-laden streambed and very poor fish habitat.
After restoration. Channel with improved pool habitat and narrowed with wetland sod mats and native willows.
The Montana Department of Environmental Quality has recently awarded Confluence Consulting a contract to complete water quality monitoring in the Missouri-Cascade TMDL planning area. The project is being overseen by Confluence’s GIS specialist, Jim Johnson. Since 1996, Johnson has provided data management solutions to government and industry through interdisciplinary consulting firms.
For over two decades, the state of Montana has been working to restore the water quality of streams and lakes. Confluence has provided water quality assessment and monitoring services on numerous projects across the state of Montana. For the past five years, Confluence has performed pre and post mediation water quality monitoring for Montana DEQ at approximately three dozen locations on the 25 mile long streamside tailings operable unit of the Clark Fork River Superfund site. Confluence has not only monitored dissolved metals and recoverable metals, but also nutrients, macro-invertebrates, and habitat.
Confluence has worked closely with the Montana Department of Environmental Quality, local watershed groups, private landowners, and communities to effectively complete their TMDL (total maximum daily load) goals. The difference between the water quality standard for a pollutant and the actual amount present in the water is the reduction target, often referred to as a TMDL.