(WASHINGTON, D.C.) – Today, Western Montana Congressman Ryan Zinke urged Bureau of Reclamation Commissioner Camille Touton to increase the release of water from Hungry Horse Reservoir to stabilize water levels in Flathead Lake ahead of the lake reaching historically low pool levels.
Read the letter to Commissioner Touton here.
This 18-inch drop has the potential to create extremely adverse environmental, economic, and safety ramifications for the greater Flathead Lake community. The lower water level will result in decreased tourism and create damage to docks and infrastructure surrounding Flathead Lake, as well as create a public safety emergency with submerged hazards blocking previously navigable waterways.
“There’s too much at stake economically, environmentally, and for public safety for the federal government to ignore this oncoming crisis,” Zinke said. “Luckily, Reclamation has the authority, and precedence has been set, to increase flow from Hungry Horse Reservoir to stabilize Flathead Lake levels. I’m urging the commissioner to use that authority and take action now to prevent irreversible damage to the greater Flathead Lake community.”
The current June streamflow volume forecast is at 40% of average and July is at 36% of the average.
The SKQ Dam project decreased the lake outflow to minimum streamflow for the lower Flathead River at the beginning of June. However, due to the low inflow into Flathead Lake, the elevation is beginning to drop and is expected to continue to drop until approximately mid-July.
Without substantial precipitation or an increase in streamflow, the lowest level is anticipated to be near 18 inches or 1.5 feet below full pool.