Watershed Wellness

Clean water starts with all of us

In Montana, we have a strong sense of place and responsibility to the land.

“Clean Water Starts with Me” is the slogan of the Montana Department of Environmental Quality water quality division. It speaks to the fact that every one of us can take steps to promote clean water and healthy streams in Montana. No matter if you’re a hiker, landowner, rancher, or angler there are actions we can each take to help.

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Summer is on the way

The spring ritual is in full force once again. 


As the snowpack melts and
the river rises, the world around us comes alive. Ranchers have new calves to care for and haying
season is on its way for farmers.  Anglers continue wetting lines in search of trout. Gardens are seeing
signs of life as plants begin to bloom.

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Summer streamflows saved by February storms … or were they?

As a hydrologist, I understand the intense interest in water across Montana, and more specifically in the Bitterroot Valley. Water’s relative scarcity, and therefore incredible importance, was one of the reasons I followed a career path into this river-oriented community.

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Groundwater in the Bitterroot Valley

It is National Groundwater Awareness Week, March 7-13, so this month we’re diving into the world of groundwater.

Groundwater is defined as water held underground in the soil or in pores and crevices in rock.  An aquifer is the underground layer of water-bearing sediment or permeable rock from which groundwater can be extracted using a water well.

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Roots Against Erosion project planned at Skalkaho Bend

The Bitterroot River is dynamic and its channel moves back and forth across its floodplain. Though channel migration is a natural process, human influence can impact the rate of migration.

Over the past 25 years, the Bitterroot River has been migrating eastward into the area of Skalkaho Bend Park.


The Bitter Root Water Forum is working with the City of Hamilton on a project to address the potential erosional loss of park land at Skalkaho Bend.

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Responsibly living near streams

Here in the Bitterroot we are lucky to have the beautiful river and its tributaries running through our valley.


With that abundance of streams crossing our valley, there are thousands of properties in the Bitterroot that are streamside or riverfront.

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Grateful for the Bitterroot

As we enter this holiday season and approach the end of 2020, it is a natural time to reflect upon the events of this passing year.

Not surprisingly, for many of us, 2020 is inextricably linked to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

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Irrigation is complex — even without delving into water rights — which will be covered in a future Watershed Wellness installment. This month, we’re diving into the irrigation water cycle in the Bitterroot, and where irrigation water comes from.

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Welcome to the first "Watershed Wellness" — a monthly installment from the Bitter Root Water Forum, bringing you the latest on watershed health and wellness, tips for living near streams, and more.

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Watershed Wellness is funded in part by the United States Environmental Protection Agency, DEQ, and MACD.  Please take our survey.

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