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Caring For The Bear River

Green grass creek

How do state and federal agencies address pollutants in the Bear River?

A TMDL or Total Maximum Daily Load is a calculation of the maximum amount of a pollutant that a waterbody can receive and still meet water quality standards It also includes an allocation of that amount to the pollutant's sources.

Water quality standards are set by States, Territories, and Tribes. They identify the beneficial uses for each waterbody, for example, drinking water supply, contact recreation (swimming), and aquatic life support (fishing), and the water quality criteria to support that use.

A TMDL is the sum of the allowable loads of a single pollutant from all contributing point and nonpoint sources. The calculation must include a margin of safety to ensure that the waterbody can be used for the purposes the State has designated. The calculation must also account for seasonal variation in water quality. Section 303 of the Clean Water Act establishes the water quality standards and TMDL programs.

If you are a landowner or manage land, a TMDL may affect you. If runoff from your land reaches a water body specified within a TMDL, your land management activities may be subject to the TMDL and its implementation plan. Be proactive by developing and implementing BMPs on your land to minimize water quality impacts. Contact Justin Elsner, who is the Lower Bear River Watershed Coordinator, at for further information.

View the TMDL Information Application to browse through all of the Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) information in the Bear River watershed.

How can I reduce pollutants to the Bear River?

Best Management practices (BMPs) describe ways to manage your land or your activities to reduce or prevent pollution of surface and groundwater near you. These practices protect your family's health, but also help protect the other uses of our water such as recreation, animal habitat, fisheries, and agricultural uses such as irrigation or stock watering. Best management practices are usually simple and low tech, and benefit everybody. Funding for these projects may be available through EPA, USDA and other programs. To find out what cost share programs and grants are currently available, contact Justin Elsner for Utah, David Waterstreet for Wyoming or Lynn Van Every for Idaho.

Agricultural BMPs

Some examples of agricultural BMPs include safe management of animal waste, controling pests and nutrients, contour farming, crop rotation, and vegetative buffers near streams.

Click the following links for a check list of common agricultural BMPs:

More information about manure BMPs and protecting your water:

Urban BMPs

Water from storm drains in cities and towns does not carry runoff to water treatment plants, but directly to local streams, rivers, and lakes or reservoirs. It is important to keep storm water or runoff as free from pollutants as possible. While the action of one household may seem insignificant, with the combined actions of hundreds and thousands of residents, the potential to pollute local waters is very real.

These are urban BMPs that you can implement to help reduce pollution in our local waterbodies:

Use Fertilizers Wisely

  • Apply at the right time and in the right amounts.
  • Fertilizer with slow release nitrogen is better for the environment.
  • Get a soil test to see what your soil needs.
  • If more fertilizer is applied than the grass can utilize, it can wash into nearby streams and lakes.

Apply Pesticides Wisely

  • Identify the pest, disease, or cause of the problem.
  • Learn when and where pesticides are needed.
  • Select chemicals that are the least toxic or that break down quickly.
  • Always READ the label before mixing and applying pesticides.

Do Your Landscaping Practices Prevent Erosion?

  • Soil washed away by rain can pollute streams and lakes.
  • Protect soil by planting groundcover vegetation or using by mulch.
  • Gardens and construction sites with areas of bare soil, especially on sloped land are prone to erosion.
  • Use the mulch setting on your mover and start grass-cycling. Just leave the grass on the lawn. It provides needed nutrients to the soil and grass.

Wash Your Vehicle Wisely

  • Use a commercial car wash. Waste water from these businesses does not enter the storm drains and is sent to a water treatment facility.
  • If washing your car at home, pull you vehicle onto the grass before you start washing. This will help water the yard as well as keep the soapy water from running straight into the storm drain.

Dispose of Pet Waste

  • Pet waste washed into streams, rivers, or lakes, contributes to nutrient pollution.
  • Pet waste can carry disease carrying organisms.
  • Dispose of pet waste properly by either collecting the waste and flushing it down the toilet, burying it in the yard about 5 inches deep, or putting it in the trash.

Use and Dispose of Household Chemicals Safely

  • Never pour chemicals such as paint or oil onto the yard or directly into storm drains, or the next rain will take the chemicals directly to your local stream.
  • See if there is a household chemical collection center near you and drop off chemicals there if possible. These centers provide safe, environmental friendly disposal and are usually free.
  • Look for alternative cleaning products that are less hazardous to the environment.

For more information about BMPs visit For information on appropriate and effective monitoring strategies for specific monitoring objectives view Best Management Practices: Monitoring Guidance.