River level dropping to allow repairs to Black Eagle Dam

Posted at 2:53 PM, Jul 13, 2018
and last updated 2018-07-19 19:07:46-04

GREAT FALLS – Just a few weeks ago, some communities were hit by flooding as some portions of the Sun River and the Missouri River continued rising due to heavy rains.

There was so much water flowing in the Missouri River that workers at NorthWestern Energy had to remove pieces of boards and steel beams at Black Eagle Dam to allow more water to flow through.

But now, with run-off tapering and not much rain falling, dam workers are drawing the water levels down so they will be able to make the necessary repairs to the dam.

NorthWestern Energy spokesman Butch Larcombe says that water levels will likely continue to be low for approximately the next week to 10 days until they replace the beams.

Once the necessary repairs are finished on the dam, water levels will begin to slowly rise once again.

With the water levels so low, it might be more tempting to wander near the dams and reservoirs above the dams, but people are advised not to do so and continue using caution near all of the dams.

Boaters need to be cautious as well, as there could be sandbars that are not visible, which is not only true at this time but at any time of the year.

(JUNE 21, 2018) Due to the high flows and large amount of debris in the river, NorthWestern crews on Wednesday evening removed steel spillway beams to open three bays at Black Eagle Dam. The move was intended to allow more water and debris to pass through the dam. Large amounts of debris can hinder dam operations.

The move to spill more water and debris at Black Eagle is not expected to have significant impact on the operations of the four NorthWestern dams below Black Eagle.

The spillway beams and boards that were released will need to be replaced after the high flows subside. This will result in noticeably lower water levels in the reservoir above Black Eagle Dam. The timing of this drawdown will be tied to future flows and they cannot provide an accurate time frame for that drawdown at this point.

Reporting by Kasey Herman for MTN News