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Public advised to stay out of Missouri River riverbed in Black Eagle Dam area

Posted at 3:21 PM, Jul 18, 2019
and last updated 2019-07-18 18:03:34-04
Black Eagle Dam (MTN News File Photo)

Officials are cautioning the public to stay out of the Missouri River riverbed in the Black Eagle Dam area as water levels will be low so crews can make repairs to the dam.

Beginning July 22, NorthWestern Energy will begin drawing down Black Eagle Reservoir upstream from the dam about five feet to repair damage from river debris.

Flooding in the Dearborn and Sun rivers in May sent trees and other large debris to the dam, which likely caused the damage.

The damage did not impact the structural integrity of the dam, according to NorthWestern Energy Hydro Plant Foreman Dereck Besich. The damage is making it difficult to seal equipment completely, which wastes water and causes inefficiency.

The reservoir water drawdown project will begin July 22 and continue until July 23. Maintenance work will occur July 24 and the reservoir will be back to full pool by the morning of July 26.

Members of the public should not enter the riverbed. Deep mud, slippery rocks and the short duration of the water drawdown will create safety hazards.

NorthWestern Energy conducted a similar maintenance drawdown at Black Eagle Reservoir in August 2016. The river level was also dropped last year for repairs.