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Influences Of Industrial Contributions To Water Levels

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Influences of Industrial Contributions to Water Levels


The Sand Creek Drainage Basin is located approximately five miles southwest of Butte, Montana. Stresses on the local aquifer of this drainage basin arise from industrial influences. These influences include Rhodia Inc, a leading producer in specialty chemicals, who pumped 1.6 million gallons of groundwater out of this drainage each day from the mid 1950’s until 1998. Another industrial influence began in May 1998 when ASiMI, a silicon manufacturing plant, began discharging 388,000 gallons of water per day down Sheep Gulch, located in the Sand Creek Drainage Basin. ASiMI is directly up gradient from Rhodia Inc and this discharge of water has greatly changed the groundwater flow of the area.

Previous Undergraduate Research Projects (URP) have studied this drainage basin. In 2002, a URP study was conducted to evaluate the changes in groundwater levels influenced by drought in the Sand Creek Drainage Basin. In addition, a 2004 URP study was done to continue monitoring the water levels and to evaluate any seasonal changes. The purpose of this Undergraduate Research Project is to determine if water levels over the study area have increased, including the area to the south where drought conditions have lowered the water table. In addition, it is hypothesized that the influences of ASiMI discharge will continue to increase the water levels near the Rhodia Site and these water levels will be distinguishable from normal precipitation recharge.

For this project, continued documentation of current conditions in the Sand Creek Drainage will be conducted, and will be compared with changes over the past several years. To do this, four rounds of groundwater level data from wells will be collected near the Rhodia and ASiMI sites in May, September and November of 2006 and in January, 2007. It is important to collect these data during a normal precipitation



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