As northern Montana's rivers fall, streams to the state's south flow strong
Published 10 months ago by The Billings Gazette

Fresno Reservoir has been drawn down thanks to little rain and lots of irrigation.

Afterbay Dam, seen here discharging a flow of about 11,000 cubic feet per second in April, spills water into the Bighorn River, which has seen continuous high flows this spring.

The northern half of Montana seems to be in an entirely different climate zone than the southern half when it comes to water flows this summer.

Rivers like the Milk along the Hi-Line are tracking below normal flows for this time of the year. Storage levels in Fresno and Nelson reservoirs, which supply irrigators and communities along the Milk River, are near expected minimum elevations for the season, according to the Bureau of Reclamation.

“Above average temperatures coupled with below average precipitation has led to irrigation demands remaining higher than normal and reservoir storage levels lower than normal,” the Bureau said in a press release.

Fresno Reservoir is 30 feet below the full storage level elevation of 2,575 feet while Nelson Reservoir is nearly 12 feet below the full storage level of 2,221.6 feet.

“Irrigation operations are starting to ramp down for Milk River Project beneficiaries about a month sooner than normal,” the Bureau said. “Both reservoirs are expected to gain storage after the middle of August into October as water from the St. Mary River Basin continues to be transferred to the Milk River Basin.”

Down south

Turn your gaze southward, th ...

Added: 10 months ago