Teton Conservation District

Water Quality Improvement Projects


Characterization of Fish Creek: Groundwater/Surface-Water Interaction, Water Quality, and Aquatic Biota

Project Partners: USGS Wyoming Water Science Center, Jackson Hole Onefly, National Fish and Wildlife Foundation



Fish Creek, an approximately 15-mile long tributary of the Snake River, is located in Teton County in western Wyoming near the Town of Wilson. Local residents began observing an increase in the growth of algae and aquatic plants in Fish Creek during the last decade. To more fully understand the hydrologic system and the possible relation to aquatic life in the stream, the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), in cooperation with the Teton Conservation District, began conducting a multi-phase study to determine the interaction of surface water and groundwater along Fish Creek. 

Study Phases:

  • Seepage investigation
  • Using heat as a tracer to determine groundwater/surface-water interaction
  • Characterization of aquatic plant and macroinvertebrate communities, and water quality
  • Nutrient Loading Study


Seepage Investigation on Selected Reaches of Fish Creek, Teton County, Wyoming, 2004

The purpose of this report is to present the results of the seepage investigation on Fish Creek during August 17-19 and November 3-4, 2004. The discharge measurements at 20 sites, which include 14 mainstem sites, 2 return flow sites, 1 spring, 2 tributary sites, and 1 diversion site, are presented. The calculated streamflow gains and losses attributed to ground water along six reaches of Fish Creek also are presented.


Characterization of Interactions between Surface Water and Near-Stream Groundwater along Fish Creek, Teton County, Wyoming, by Using Heat as a Tracer

The study has two main objectives: (1) develop an improved spatial and temporal understanding of water flow (fluxes) between surface water and groundwater, and (2) use a two-dimensional groundwater-flow and heat-transport model to interpret observed temperature and hydraulic-head distributions and to describe groundwater flow near Fish Creek. The study is intended to augment hydrologic information derived from previously published results of a seepage investigation on Fish Creek. Seepage measurements provide spatially averaged gains and losses over an entire reach for one point in time, whereas continuous temperature and water-level measurements provide continuous estimates of gain and loss at a specific location.


Characterization of Water Quality and Biological Communities, Fish Creek, Teton County, Wyoming, 2007–08

The main objectives of this study were to (1) evaluate nutrient concentrations (that influence biological indicators of eutrophication) and potential sources of nutrients by using stable isotope analysis and other indicator chemicals (such as caffeine and disinfectants) that could provide evidence of anthropogenic sources, such as wastewater or septic tank contamination in Fish Creek and adjacent groundwater, and (2) characterize the algal, macrophyte, and macroinvertebrate communities and habitat of Fish Creek. 

Characterization of Water Quality and Biological Communities, 2007-11

For additional information and a complete list of publications please visit the USGS Fish Creek Project Homepage.


Estimated Nitrogen and Phosphorous Inputs to the Fish Creek Watershed, Teton County, Wyoming, 2009-15

This study used data provided for each unique nutrient source (atmospheric deposition, fertilizer applications, septic and sewer systems, livestock, diversions from the Snake River, and explosives) to quantify inputs to the watershed using a spatial approach. This will allow Stakeholders to better apply time and and energy for the greatest benefit. It will also allow us to measure the success of Best Management Practice implementation by directly relating nutrient reduction to total nutrient loads.


Karns Meadow Stormwater Treatment Wetland-

Project Partners; Town of Jackson, Wyoming, Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality, Jackson Hole OneFly, National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, Jackson Hole Trout Unlimited, Jackson Hole Ducks Unlimited, Intermountain Aquatics, Inc., Alder Environmental

 The purpose of the Karns Meadow Stormwater Treatment Wetland Project is to significantly improve the physical and chemical quality of urban runoff entering Flat Creek at the Karns Meadow property. The Project will treat stormwater from three sources next to the site that collect runoff from 27% of the Town of Jackson. This includes areas that contribute disproportionate amounts of sediment and associated road-derived salt, metals, and hydrocarbons; in particular, storage of snow removed from all Town-owned streets and alleys on the Rodeo Grounds adjacent to Karns Meadow. This runoff results in elevated pollutant loading from this site. The central part of the Project will be a series of sedimentation and wetland basins to remove pollutants. Sediment basins will be cleaned periodically to maintain their pollutant removal capacity.




Fish Creek Residential Wastewater Treatment Wetland Demonstration Project-

Project Partners: Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality, Teton County Engineering Department, Intermountain Aquatics

 The Teton Conservation District and Intermountain Aquatics, Inc. tested the use of a small artificial wetland to enhance treatment of wastewater from a single family home in Wilson, Wyoming. The recirculating vertical flow (RVF) wetland was installed between the existing septic tank and leachfield. It was constructed in the fall of 2009 and planted, instrumented for data collection, and put into service in the spring of 2010. Performance was monitored from June 2010 to June 2011.

 For more information about this program please contact TCD  (307) 733-2110.