St. Mary Canal Siphon Failure outside Babb Montana
By Moosetrack Megan

Posted: June 17, 2024

BABB, Montana— The St. Mary Canal Siphon breached just outside Babb, Montana, at approximately 8:45 a.m. today, resulting in isolated flooding in the surrounding area. The breach caused local flooding and erosion, with some areas resulting in washout areas estimated to be 30 to 50 feet deep. Diversions to the canal were 600 cubic feet per second (cfs) at the time of failure, diversions have been stopped however flows are expected to continue for as long as 24 to 36 hours while the canal drains.

This breach has affected residents and surrounding communities directly or indirectly. Emergency response teams, and local law enforcement are involved in the response efforts. The Bureau of Reclamation is coordinating with the Gallatin County Sheriff’s Department, Blackfeet Tribe, National Park Service, Glacier County Sheriff’s Department, and Glacier Electric to limit the impacts of the breach and ensure people remain safe.


“Emergency response teams have been deployed to contain and evaluate the damage,” said Ryan Newman, Reclamation’s Montana Area Office Manager. “Water flows were naturally diverted back to the St. Mary River and helped mitigate the potential for additional flooding in the surrounding area.”


The flooding has caused localized property damage in direct proximity to the breach, impacted local infrastructure, and may pose risks to public safety. Roads are closed, and utilities may potentially be disrupted in the affected areas. Traffic cones and caution tape have been placed to limit access to potentially dangerous areas.


Reclamation and local authorities responded quickly to the breach and will be conducting damage assessments to the St Mary system, local property, and surrounding areas. Residents are advised to avoid the area and follow evacuation or safety orders from local authorities.


The Bureau of Reclamation is coordinating assets and experts to assess the damage and potential cause of the failure and will be evaluating both short term solutions, if any, along with long-term rebuild options. Detailed inspections will commence as soon as the water empties from the line and surrounding ground is determined to be stable.


The St Mary Canal, completed in 1915, diverts water from the St. Mary River to the North Fork of the Milk River in Montana., is a critical infrastructure component for water management in the region and serves 120,000 acres of irrigated land and approximately 14,000 municipal users. The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law was designed to mitigate events like this by allocating $8.3 billion for the Bureau of Reclamation to repair aging water delivery systems, secure dams, complete rural water projects, and protect aquatic ecosystems.

New Podcast!

Riley's Meats - Butte Wild Game Processing