Water is essential for life.

The Gallatin Valley is a headwaters community. Our water is finite and flows downstream via the Missouri River to millions of users. Each spring, mountain snowpack melts as runoff to feed creeks, rivers and groundwater. Water is diverted for use, evaporates and returns to the system as precipitation. The intricate balance in each of these steps defines and impacts our water future. We are all a part of caring for our water. We hope these resources promote good stewardship.


85% of Bozeman’s water comes from snowmelt that feeds Bozeman (Sourdough) and Hyalite (Middle) Creeks. The remaining 15% comes from a spring at Lyman Creek in the southwest Bridger Mountains. This water is treated and, after use, it is treated once again at the Bozeman Water Reclamation Facility before being returned to the East Gallatin River. Current average daily water use by each person in Bozeman is 120 gallons per day.


River Best Practices

Wetlands, floodplains and riparian forests are natural filters that clean our water, reduce the risk of flooding, refill the aquifers, keep farmland productive, and provide important fish and wildlife habitat.


Living near a Stream or Wetland

  • Maintain or restore a buffer of native vegetation along stream and river banks, lakeshores and wetlands. Buffers help filter out sediments and pollutants before they enter a stream or river, and provide important habitat for local fish and wildlife.  If your stream has plants along it, do not remove them. They help stabilize your stream bank. Also, by building on upland areas, away from wetlands and riparian zones, you will reduce the risk of flood damage to your property, and help protect clean water.

  • Avoid draining or filling wetlands.  This will help reduce the risk of flood damage for you and your neighbors, while providing important habitat for wildlife.

  • Maintain your septic system with annual checks, and pump your tank as needed. This will save you money and hassle in the long run, and protect our water.

  • Keep stock animals out of sensitive wetland and riparian habitat.


  • Retain existing native vegetation. Native plants preserve Montana’s scenic beauty, protect and enhance your privacy, provide essential fish and wildlife habitat, and protect clean water.
  • Minimize lawn size and avoid fertilizers, herbicides and pesticides near streams and wetlands. Use “least-toxic” pest management by integrating biological, mechanical and physical methods with chemical methods. The less toxic the method, the safer it is for human, aquatic, plant and animal life.
  • Don’t dispose of yard clippings in streams, but leave natural debris such as leaves and downed branches in place along riparian areas.




    • Stay on the trails and avoid low spots and watercourses when cycling, horseback riding, hiking or riding ATVs.

    • Reduce your impact on the river when boating by avoiding high speeds, large wakes, traveling close to shorelines, or running watercraft repeatedly along the same section of river or slough as this greatly exacerbates river bank erosion. Special consideration is required along river banks that have been recently restored.

    Prevent Aquatic Invaders

    Invasive species can be introduced in our rivers and lakes with boats, trailers, and equipment that have been in contaminated waters. Once introduced, invaders can rapidly spread, threatening native plants and animals, agriculture, domestic water supplies and recreation.


    • CLEAN. Completely remove all mud, water, and vegetation before leaving the access area.
    • DRAIN. Drain all water from watercraft and equipment.
    • DRY. Aquatic invaders can survive only in water and wet areas.


    • Fence livestock away from stream and river banks.

    • Prevent over-irrigating by using electronic moisture measuring devices, drop tubes and low pressure sprinkler heads, and mulching where feasible. These reduce water use dramatically and pay for themselves quickly in reduced electric bills.

    • Do not mix, apply or dispose of weed-control chemicals, used motor oil or other toxic substances near streams.

    • Use farming practices that reduce soil erosion and increase water infiltration, such as minimum tillage, leaving fields in stubble over winter, and maintaining vegetated stream and river banks.