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2017 best water year, water supplies above normal

News from Montana Department of Natural Resources and Conservation

HELENA —Montana’s 2017 water year will be the best in several years, with minimal drought concerns for the growing season, and water supplies in excess of normal in the Flathead and Bighorn River basins, according to the Governor’s Drought and Water Supply Advisory Committee (DWSAC).

“Drought will not be an issue this year,” said Ada Montague, DWSAC’s staff and a water planner with the Montana Department of Natural Resources and Conservation (DNRC). 

Flooding, on the other hand, is a concern. Flooding on the Flathead River is likely this spring and early summer. The Flathead has Snow Water Equivalent (SWE) measurements of 125 percent of normal and stream flow volume forecasts indicate flows of 146 percent of normal. Flathead Lake was at 66 percent of capacity at the end of April with Hungry Horse releasing 10,400 cubic feet per second (cfs) of total discharge. Since then, Flathead Lake has filled to 2,890.5 feet, just under three feet from full. There is between 40-50,000 cfs coming in and 40,000 cfs leaving, allowing for a gradual fill. The lake will fill by the July Fourth holiday and will remain at that level until it is lowered in the fall per usual. However, localized flooding is anticipated this season and water users should be prepared.

For more information visit www.drought.mt.gov or contact staff for the Governor’s Drought and Water Supply Advisory Committee, Ada Montague (406) 444-6628, amontague@mt.gov.

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