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Governor formally requests action on Flathead Lake

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News from the office of Governor Gianforte

HELENA — On July 13 Governor Greg Gianforte submitted a System Operational Request to the Columbia River Technical Management Team (TMT) to address low water levels in Flathead Lake.

The governor noted that, in accordance with TMT guidelines, TMT members and non-TMT members may provide recommendations to the TMT in the form of System Operational Requests (SOR). TMT members include the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

“Therefore, as a non-TMT member, I submit this letter as my SOR for the TMT to use all available data and criteria to consider releases from the Hungry Horse into Flathead Lake in an amount practical and compliant with state and federal law and regulations,” Gov. Gianforte wrote to the TMT. “Given time remains of the essence, I urge you to act without delay.”

The governor also noted federal agencies’ lack of responsiveness that has unnecessarily delayed action to address low water levels in Flathead Lake.

“Regarding the drought conditions in the Flathead Valley and low water levels in Flathead Lake, I asked officials with the U.S. Department of the Interior on July 6 to provide specific data and information to guide a potential request for a release from the Hungry Horse Project (Hungry Horse). I have yet to receive a formal response, only partial, incomplete information,” Gov. Gianforte wrote.

He continued, “On July 11, I urged the Columbia River Technical Management Team (TMT) to act, writing ‘any and all solutions must be fully discussed at the upcoming meeting of the Technical Management Team,’ and made three specific requests to the TMT. No meaningful action was taken at yesterday’s (July 12) TMT meeting.”

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