A short history of groundwater contamination and its effect on Silver Bow Creek – the tail end of the story. A hydrogeologist's perspective.


Joe Griffin

Document Type


Publication Date

Spring 3-25-2020


Over 100 years of mining and smelting in Butte, Montana has left a legacy of contaminated streams and groundwater that the Environmental Protection Agency began to address under the Superfund program in the late 1980s. The massive cleanup, which includes groundwater capture/treatment and stream restoration, has decreased copper concentrations in Silver Bow Creek by close to two orders of magnitude. As stream contamination has tailed off, scientists are using a unique temporal cumulative gain-loss analysis to locate reaches that are still affected by more subtle contaminated groundwater inflow.

Streaming Media


Hydrogeologist Joe Griffin has spent the last 30 years evaluating the upper Clark Fork Superfund complex, as a consultant to Atlantic Richfield, a project manager for Montana DEQ and now as a serious hobbyist.