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Quantification of metal loading in Fisher Creek by tracer injection and synoptic sampling, Park County, Montana, August 1997

January 1, 2001

Acid mine drainage from abandoned and inactive mines affects the water quality of the upper reaches of Fisher Creek, Montana. A sodium chloride tracer was added to the stream for 29.5 hours to provide a hydrologic context for synoptic sampling of metal chemistry in the stream and its inflows. The detailed profile of stream discharge obtained from the sampling helped to indicate those areas of Fisher Creek where most of the metal loading occurred. Inflows to the stream can be divided between visible surface inflows, which were sampled, and subsurface inflows, which were not sampled, but the effects of both types of inflows on the stream load were quantified. Substantial loads were attributed to both sources. These results indicate that treatment of large visible inflows, particularly the Glengary adit, could still leave metal concentrations in Fisher Creek at levels that may adversely affect aquatic life.

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