Brett French reports: Corps decides to continue to drain Fort Peck
By angelamontana

Posted: September 22, 2022

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers announced this week that it has decided to maintain water releases from Fort Peck Dam at 7,800 cubic feet per second. At the end of August, the Corps had announced a reduction to 4,000 cfs this month. But the agency decided to delay that cut back to allow irrigators in the extremely dry region more time to water crops before harvest. Earlier this month, the Corps reported that runoff into its Missouri reservoirs for September is predicted at only 78% of normal, “much lower than average.” Right now the lake is sitting at an elevation of 2,219.97 feet. That’s 8 feet lower than at this time last year and 18 feet lower than in 2020. It was back in 2007 when Fort Peck reached its lowest level since being filled – an elevation of 2,196 feet. In the winter and spring of 2010-2011, the reservoir reached its highest level, prompting record releases. Fish, Wildlife & Parks fisheries biologist Heath Headley has said in the past that less water isn’t necessarily a bad thing. When vegetation grows on the banks of the reservoir and is then flooded, it provides nutrition in the system and hiding cover for smaller fish. The persisting drought does prompt the question, however: How low will Fort Peck go? For more on the story, check out my reporting at billingsgazette.com/outdoors.

Written by Brett French | Outdoors Editor | Billings Gazette