Bighorn river releases to drop to 2,830cfs tomorrow


The corrected address for tomorrow’s meeting is: 214 North Broadway


In advance of the fall planning meeting next week, Reclamation will be dropping flows to their expected fall/winter release rate.

Starting tomorrow at 4pm, river releases will decrease from 3,000cfs to 2,830cfs.

We encourage you to attend the Fall Planning Meeting and the Issues Group meeting November 12 starting at 9:30am at the MSUB-Extended Campus, 112 N. Broadway in Billings. Meetings should be done by 4pm. This is an EXCELLENT opportunity to have your voice heard.

See you there!

River releases to drop 250cfs

In addition to some tests where the power plant units will be briefly taken offline, Reclamation will decrease river releases to conserve storage. During the tests, water will be passed through the river outlets rather than the turbines for as long as four hours and possibly less. The test will occur on October 15.

Starting Wednesday, October 15, releases will be reduced from 3,500cfs to 3,250cfs.

Reports have been coming in that the river is clearing and fishing is finally starting to pick back up.

Enjoy this beautiful fall weather!

Bighorn releases to drop to 3,500cfs

During the stakeholders call with Reclamation today, it was announced that releases will be reduced to conserve storage.

Starting tomorrow at 4pm. river releases will be reduced from 4,000cfs to 3,500cfs.

Note that with these reductions, all water will be passing through the turbines (rather than some coming from the river outlets).

At this time, it looks like Reclamation will set winter release at or near 2,860cfs, so please expect further reductions in the coming weeks.

The fall planning meeting is scheduled for November 12th in Billings. An official agenda and location will be published well in advance of the meeting and details will be posted in the newspapers and at I strongly urge you to attend this meeting if you have comments or concerns you’d like to share with Reclamation.


Bighorn releases to back off to 4,000cfs


Now that the lake is finally out of the flood pool and back in the conservation pool, Reclamation will reduce releases to conserve storage.

Starting Monday, October 6 at 4pm, releases will decrease from 4,500cfs to 4,000cfs.

A new shift value is being applied, and it is lower than last time which indicates some algae is beginning to leave the system (and good riddance).

Enjoy the beautiful fall weather!

Still in the flood pool, irrigation ends and releases to climb to 4,500cfs

The Bighorn Canal is ending its irrigation season, and the current canal releases will be diverted to the river. In addition, because inflows have stayed up, additional releases will have to take place in order to draft the reservoir and finally get out of the exclusive flood pool.

Starting Thursday at 3pm, releases will increase from 3,900cfs to 4,500cfs.

Here are a couple of important notes to consider this week:

Algae and aquatic vegetation is currently displacing enough water to raise the stage of the river nearly a foot and a quarter in some section of the river.

The turbidity seen in the river is coming from Bighorn Lake, which has been verified by Reclamation personnel.

The work on the Afterbay lake should be completed this week and the Afterbay lake refilled immediately after work is completed.

Lastly, WAPA has requested a decrease in power generation, which will require some water to be released from the dam from an outlet OTHER THAN the turbines. This may (or may not) result in somewhat less turbid water coming from the dam. IMPORTANT: To help with future algae issues, PLEASE let us know what changes you see on the river starting Thursday and through the weekend. That information may be useful down the road in reducing the headaches of future algae problems.

Send your comments to


Unusually high inflows require additional releases

Unusually high inflows continue to fill the reservoir, so additional releases will be required to evacuate storage.

Starting today at 4pm Reclamation will increase releases from 3,050cfs to 3,300cfs, and,
tomorrow at 4pm another 200cfs to 3,500cfs.

When you have time, PLEASE continue to email me brief river condition reports whether they be good or bad. I discovered today there may be a striking difference between what anglers and guides are experiencing and what water managers are hearing.


A return to micro-managing water

Reclamation just released an water order change indicating once again the need to evacuate storage out of the exclusive flood pool.

On Tuesday, September 2nd at 4pm, river releases will increase from 3,050cfs to 3,300cfs.

Maybe my perspective is a bit shaded after 8 years of this, but with inflows at or above 4,000cfs, river releases at 3,300cfs and the canal at 275cfs, it seems Reclamation is not managing water in acre feet, but in drops and buckets.

These small bumps just drag in the dead debris from the last surge, making the river and banks stink, the fishing lousy and the river experience a real nightmare for both commercial and public interests alike. To paraphrase Rep Elaine Harvey, we haven’t had a river for four weeks!

What the heck is driving this incredibly conservative water management? Is there an unwritten policy at MTAO that all forecasts are considered drought unless proven otherwise? What exactly will it take for us to achieve some semblance of balance with other water interests?

Sorry for the rant. Hang in there, folks. We’ll sort this out in the fall meetings.