Supporting aquatic life by defining allowable heat loads and implementation plans for streams in the Black Hills.

Project Details

South Dakota Department of Environment and Natural Resources

2013 - 2015

Butte, Lawrence, and Meade Counties, South Dakota


Water temperature is a key component in sustaining healthy aquatic life. The state of South Dakota recently developed and adopted new temperature standards for cold-water fish life in the Black Hills. As a result, the state of South Dakota initiated a Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) assessment of the Whitewood Creek and Bear Butte Creek Watersheds to assess the temperature regime on 13 defined stream reaches classified as cold-water fisheries.

The Whitewood/Bear Butte Creek Watershed TMDL project integrates mechanistic modeling and remote-sensing data to define an allowable heat loading for impaired reaches. Mechanistic modeling was used to determine the daily allowable load as energy-per-unit volume of water. Remote-sensing data and GIS analysis were used to allocate excess solar radiation caused by land-cover disturbance. Specifically, the proposed TMDL project used existing HSPF modeling applications that were developed for Whitewood Creek and the Belle Fourche River Watersheds to simulate stream temperature in the project area. The assessment report incorporated the HSPF model application results for determining allowable loads and the source allocation as well as developing optimized, cost-effective, and realistic implementation plans.