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externally Identified information needs



One of the goals of the Montana Water Center is to encourage collaboration between university faculty and graduate students and state and federal agencies, and to connect university research to key information needs of entities across the state with significant focus on water resources. The following topics are research interests identified by some of these entities.

US geological survey

The USGS would welcome collaboration with students and faculty on these or other topics: 

  • Using DNA technology to understand the interaction between microbial communities and the water and substrate where they occur (streams, aquifers, hot springs, etc.)

  • Using geospatial models and remote-sensed and citizen-provided data to estimate hydrologic characteristics and response to stresses

  • Using hydroacoustics to estimate metallic contaminants in mine-affected rivers in Montana

  • Detecting and predicting harmful algal blooms in reservoirs

  • Collecting or estimating streamflow data for small mountain streams

  • Harvesting hydrologic information from social media 

  • Crowd-sourcing collection of peak stream stage data using smart phones

  • Investigating the occurrence and ecologic effects of microplastics in Montana's aquatic environments

For more information, contact John Kilpatrick at the USGS MT-WY Water Science Center, jmkilpat@usgs.gov; 406-457-5902



The MT DNRC has identified the following topics as information needs:

  • Research on aquifer storage and recharge dynamics, including irrigation and return flow, to improve process understanding and improve accuracy of hydrologic models, particularly for streamflow modeling during extended drought. Contact: Michael Downey, mdowney2@mt.gov, 406-444-9748

  • Research into the impact of water policy and law on irrigation management, including operational spills and other losses. Contact: Michael Downey, mdowney2@mt.gov, 406-444-9748

  • Applying social-ecological systems perspectives to drought and other water resource issues, including assessing multi-scale drought issues and incorporating Traditional Ecological Knowledge (TEK). Contact: Michael Downey, mdowney2@mt.gov, 406-444-9748

  • A comprehensive set of standards/metrics for on-the-ground observations of drought impacts to hydrology, agriculture, ecology, recreation, etc., distinguished by eco-region. Contact: Michael Downey, mdowney2@mt.gov, 406-444-9748

  • Assessing how drought response and climate adaptation efforts can become less reactive and more proactive; understanding how successful proactive responses to drought and climate adaptation can be scaled up from the local level to state and regional scales.

  • Research related to constructing a numerical groundwater model that meets DNRC needs for evaluating permit and change application criteria. Contact: Attila Folnagy, AFolnagy@mt.gov, 406-444-6630

  • Monitoring and modeling effects of wildfires on streamflow, sediment loads, channel stability, potential for debris flows and landslides, aquatic habitat and fish. Contact: Michael Downey, mdowney2@mt.gov, 406-444-9748

  • Studies that examine effects of conversion from flood irrigation to sprinkler on local and downstream water supplies. Michael Downey, mdowney2@mt.gov, 406-444-9748

  • Remote-sensing-based studies of ephemeral and intermittent streams in central and eastern Montana. Contact: Dave Amman, damman@mt.gov, 406-444-6648


The MWC would like to grow this list and build further potential for collaboration. For questions or to contribute content, please contact Whitney Lonsdale,  whitney.lonsdale@montana.edu; 406-994-4454.