WATER WARS: A look at Gallatin Valley Water Controversies

Stop 5:
Day Ranch

Stop 6:
Fish Creek

Stop 7:
Other Considerations



Stop 6: Fish Creek

At this stop we will take a stream gauge measurements, assess the validity of data and determine how data should be used in legal arguments.

for Air Photo
Stop 6 topographic portion Modified from Topo II
To better orient yourself, take a look at the trip log page!
contour interval: 40 ft

Fish Creek:

Fish Creek, looking east from High Flat Road

The center of the Day Ranch controversy is Fish Creek, a small spring creek, with its spring on the Day Ranch property. Downstream Fish Creek water rights belong to three land owners. The property owners are concerned that the Day Ranch well (if pumped to support the golf course and community) will deplete the Fish Creek water supply, the W. Gallatin Alluvial aquifer and possibly the Gallatin River. The developers suggest that pumping for their use will not exceed the developers' water right. Both sides of the argument are using presumable similar data to support their hypotheses, yet they are arguing different sides of the story.

Hydrogeologists record stream flow values to determine change in flow over time, seasonal variation, effects on stream flow and more. Historical data is vital to reliably analyze the data.  
  • Look at the USGS daily stream flow values for the Gallatin River.
    1. Are there daily fluctuations?
    2. Notice the median daily stream flow based on 73 years of data.
    3. How do the daily measurement fluctuations compare to overall trend in stream flow for the river?
How do I find the stream data I need?
  • Look at the Fish Creek stream flow values.
    1. Compared to the years of data provided on the USGS site, are there enough measurements to draw conclusions in terms of changes in stream flow?
    2. If you were to pump 920 gallons per minute (the average demand for the golf course and subdivision identified by Day Ranch developers, [Bozeman Chronicle, 2004]) from a well at location DR, how would that impact Fish Creek (give a numerical answer)?
    3. Would you use this data in your argument? What other data would you like to have?



How do I calculate?

There are many other issues that play into this controversy. Move on to stop 7 to explore these issues.

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