If you are over the age of 18, we invite you to participate in our survey about recreational use of and opinions about the Warm Springs Ponds located near Anaconda, MT (Exit 201 along Interstate-90). We are seeking your input to help inform future management of the Warm Springs Ponds.
 
This online questionnaire is part of a research project titled, Promoting Community Resilience Through Understanding: Social Perceptions of Water Quality and Contamination in the Upper Clark Fork River Watershed conducted by faculty and students at the University of Montana Western in Dillon, MT and funded by Montana National Science Foundation (NSF) Consortium for Research on Environmental Water Systems (CREWS).
 
Why Focus on the Warm Springs Ponds?
After over 30 years of clean-up efforts in and around Butte, Anaconda, and Milltown, MT, a final clean-up plan is needed for the Warm Springs Ponds (currently in maintenance mode). Historic hard rock mining and smelting in and around Butte and Anaconda, MT led to heavy metal contamination in the rivers and the sediment flowing from Butte to Milltown, MT. As part of U.S. EPA’s Superfund, clean-up activities have taken place on the Butte Hill, along Silver Bow Creek, within the Upper Clark Fork River, and at Milltown. Today, federal and state agencies and community organizations continue to work together to reduce heavy metal contamination in sediments, surface water, tailings, soils, and groundwater to protect public health and restore the natural environment. With a final clean-up plan established for Butte and the Berkeley Pit, attention is now turning to the Warm Springs Ponds.
 
What Are the Warm Springs Ponds?
The Warm Springs Ponds are a series of water treatment settling ponds along Silver Bow Creek that help trap heavy metals including copper, arsenic, cadmium, lead, and zinc, and limit these heavy metals from entering the Upper Clark Fork River. These ponds were built by the Anaconda Company between 1911 and 1959 and are currently maintained and operated by Atlantic Richfield (a subsidiary of British Petroleum) and cover about 2,500 acres.

While these ponds are locally known for growing trophy-sized trout and providing critical habitat for migratory birds, their main purpose is treatment and containment of mine waste. The ponds system is estimated to hold more than 19 million cubic yards of contaminated sediment, more than 6 times the amount of sediment removed from behind Milltown Dam. These ponds supply water to the Upper Clark Fork River where water quality and temperature are a concern. The Warm Springs Ponds, combined with Mill-Willow Bypass and Warm Springs Creek, form the upper Clark Fork River and fish numbers in the Upper Clark Fork River are at an all-time low since the 1960s and 1970s. 
 
7% of survey complete.

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