Musselshell Citizen-Based Salinity Monitoring

October 5, 2014

Here are the compiled photo points taken this year.  They are divided by monitoring sites.

Two Dot Bridge Photopoints

East Harlowton Photopoints

Musselshell Above Careless Photopoints

Musselshell Below Careless Photopoints

Careless Above Musselshell Photopoints

Musselshell Above Roundup Photopoints

Musselshell Below Roundup Photopoints

Musselshell at Musselshell Bridge Photopoints

Musselshell Above the Canal Photopoints

Musselshell Below the Canal Photopoints

Musselshell Above Flatwillow Photopoints

Musselshell Below Flatwillow Photopoints


October 3, 2014

Here is the final update of the salinity data for this year.  The monitoring season starts up again in May next year.  Stay tuned for the photo points, as well.

Monitoring Data Update 10.03.14


September 15, 2014

Here is the updated data for this season.  The flooding around Mosby has kept us from getting readings at the sites near the Flatwillow confluence, but the rest are represented here.

Monitoring Data Update 9.15.14


August 29, 2014

Here is the updated data for this season.  The data shown is what I have been able to collect as of this week’s testing.

Monitoring Data Update 8.29.14


August 21, 2014

Here are the photopoints that have been taken so far this year.  Each document includes all the photos for an individual site.  They are organized on this page by highest up the river to lowest down the river.  Enjoy!

Two Dot Bridge Photopoints

East Harlowton Photopoints

Musselshell Above Careless Photopoints

Musselshell Below Careless Photopoints

Careless Above Musselshell Photopoints

Musselshell Above Roundup

Musselshell Below Roundup

Musselshell at Musselshell Bridge

Musselshell Above the Canal

Musselshell Below the Canal

Musselshell Above Flatwillow

Musselshell Below Flatwillow


August 8, 2014

Here is an update on the data as of July 17.  I am still compiling the latest data.  We recently added two new sets of volunteers to our ranks: the Shaws and the Colsons.  They will be monitoring the Mosby and Ryegate sites respectively.  Thanks to them for their help!

Click on this link to view the data so far:
Monitoring Data Update Week 6


July 14, 2014

I have compiled the data we have collected so far with the MWC’s citizen-based salinity monitoring program. I will continue to update the graph and data as we progress in the monitoring season. Please contact Luke Stappler if you need anything clarified.

Click on this link to view the data so far.

Monitoring Data Update


Project Goals and Objectives

The Musselshell Watershed Coalition is an informal advisory group in the Musselshell Basin that brings together water users, conservation districts, landowners, and agencies. The Coalition has three defined goals: to protect water quantity, water quality, and riparian function in the Musselshell Watershed. This monitoring project aims to monitor long-term electrical conductivity data along the main stem of the Musselshell River and several of its important tributaries and irrigation delivery systems. Measuring conductance allows us to estimate the number of total dissolved solids in a sample of water. “Total dissolved solids (TDS)” refers to any dissolved compounds in a solution. This study, however, focuses on dissolved salts in irrigation water . When saline irrigation water is applied to irrigated cropland soil water salinity can increase. Excessive salts in soil water can “decrease available water for plants and cause plant stress,” in turn reducing yields and destroying crops . Moreover, when soils become saline, additional water must be applied to flush or “leach” salts from the root zone on a fairly regular basis.

By pairing this local conductivity data with continuous stage/flow measurements from installed TruTrack devices and USGS gauging stations, this study can establish relationships between in-stream flow and salinity. Moreover, this monitoring project also seeks to engage a larger community of water users in gathering practical in-stream salinity data, thus building new relationships between human communities and natural resources. The statistical relationships established through this monitoring project will in turn be used to inform best irrigation practices throughout the Musselshell Valley.

This project will use photo-points to monitor changes in streambank conditions over time to better inform conservation practices related to floodplain health and invasive species control. Salinity and photo-point monitoring will not only provide useful and scientifically-sound data to producers; both the data and the process of collecting it have a wide variety of applications for basin-wide management and education. Fostering greater awareness of the importance of water quality, floodplain health, and basin-wide cooperation should be considered goals equal to the collection of practical data. Data collection will afford us a better understanding of existing, seasonal fluctuations in salinity levels, as well as streambank/floodplain response to post-flood disturbance. Data collection will follow a standard operating procedures (SOPs) established by the MSU Extension Water Quality in conjunction with the Lower Musselshell Conservation District. Separate SOPs will be used for collecting electrical conductivity and photo-points.

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