Yellowtail power outage affects releases

A power outage early this afternoon at Yellowtail Dam interrupted power generation and affected releases from the dam and the Afterbay. A scheduled reduction in releases from 12,00cfs to 10,000cfs occurred this morning at 8am, but just after noon, an additional reduction took place that eventually lowered river releases to 9,460cfs. By 2:15pm, flows of 10,000cfs had been restored. River enthusiasts are concerned such precipitous drops in releases might harm juvenile fish and aquatic invertebrates. Likewise, landowners along the river worry that bank erosion and sloughing is exacerbated by such actions.

Releases to drop to 10,000cfs tomorrow

Yellowtail Stakeholders and Interested Parties: This message is to provide you with notification of Reclamations plans to begin reducing our releases from Yellowtail Dam to the Bighorn River. Yellowtail Reservoir reached a peak elevation of 3655.03 feet on July 25, 2011. This is the second highest storage level of record since the dam was constructed, and the highest level reached since 1967. Inflows from the snowmelt runoff are now receding, and the reservoir level has started to go down. In order to control the rate of evacuation of the flood storage pool, and in cooperation with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), we are planning to make the following reduction in our releases:Thursday, July 28 at 8:00 AM: Releases from Yellowtail Dam will be reduced from 12,000 cfs to 10,000 cfs.Please be advised that additional reductions in releases will be scheduled in the coming weeks in order to continue controlling the rate of evacuation of the flood storage pool, as well as to stage down Bighorn River flows in a controlled manner to reduce the potential for river bank sloughing. Currently we are anticipating these reductions to occur about once per week. We are continuing to post updates to the operational conditions at Yellowtail Dam on a daily basis on the Montana Area Office website at http://www.usbr.gov/gp/mtao. The information for Yellowtail Dam is located under the heading Updated Yellowtail Operations Status. Please let me know if you have any questions about these updates or about our current operations at Yellowtail Dam. Thanks again, Steve DaviesU.S. Bureau of ReclamationMontana Area OfficeOffice: 406-247-7322Cell: 406-855-1446sdavies@usbr.gov

Warm water temps may be stressing fish

A number of outfitters, guides and anglers have reported spotting dead and/or dying fish in the river that they suspect is a result from warmer water temps along with lengthy fights with anglers. With the reductions in river release scheduled for this week, cooler water temperatures should be on the way. The Bighorn River outfitters and guides ask that, if you’re not doing so already, please remind anglers to land fish as quickly and safely as possible, and take steps to revive fish when necessary.

Drop in releases coming this week

Good news! It looks like we’ve finally turned the corner with spring runoff, as inflows have finally dropped below releases. During today’s conference call with Reclamation, they indicated that river releases would be dropped 2,000cfs later this week, and if inflows continue to subside at the current pace, releases would drop another 2,000cfs in another week or so. In summary, we’ll see releases drop from 12,000cfs to 10,000cfs this week, and from 10,000cfs to 8,000cfs the following week if inflows continue to drop off.

Release to increase another 500cfs today

This just came in from Reclamation. Note that the current Bighorn Lake elevation is 3,654.25, Boysen is 2.7ft into their flood pool, and Buffalo Bill is within a foot and a half of what they consider full (they have no flood pool). The 24 hour average inflows into Yellowtail are currently averaging 14,500cfs. Yellowtail Stakeholders and Interested Parties: This message is to provide you with notification of Reclamations plans to increase our releases from Yellowtail Dam to the Bighorn River. Following discussions with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) today, releases will be increased from Yellowtail Dam to the Bighorn River this afternoon as follows:Wednesday, July 20 at 4:00 PM: Releases from Yellowtail will be increased from 11,500 cfs to 12,000 cfs.We are continuing to work closely with the USACE regarding our operations at Yellowtail to safely managing the remaining flood control storage in Yellowtail Reservoir. Please be advised that the reservoir level will reach, and possibly exceed elevation 3655.0 feet in the coming days, and that additional increases in our releases may be necessary as the Exclusive Flood Control Pool fills.We are continuing to post updates to the operational conditions at Yellowtail Dam on a daily basis on the Montana Area Office website at http://www.usbr.gov/gp/mtao. The information for Yellowtail Dam is located under the heading Updated Yellowtail Operations Status. Please contact me if you have any questions about these updates or our current operations at Yellowtail Dam. Thanks again, Steve DaviesU.S. Bureau of ReclamationMontana Area OfficeOffice: 406-247-7322Cell: 406-855-1446sdavies@usbr.gov

Release to increase slightly today

Just got off a conference call with Reclamation, and it looks like that in an effort to avoid raising the lake elevation beyond 3,655ft, releases will be increased slightly from 11,000cfs to 11,500cfs this afternoon at 4pm. Keep in mind that lake elevation 3,657ft is the very top of the exclusive flood pool.

Construction update

Just a quick update from Superintendent Jerry Case regarding the Afterbay and Three Mile construction. Please note the complete closures on the 27th and 28th. Hi all -Just a quick update on the river launch site project.The parking lot is essentially finished at Three mile. The contractor still needs to finish up work with the culvert but that won’t require any disruption of use.The over flow parking lot across the road from the Afterbay launch has been completed. The Afterbay launch vault toilet should be installed on 7/21/11 if water level allows. Portable toilets are available next to dumpster.Complete closure of the Afterbay Launch Ramp/Parking lot will occur from July 27th to July 28th for cement drain trough installation. Launching may be available on the morning of the 27th, check with the construction folks on site on that date. The plan is to pour cement on the 27th and open it up for traffic on the 29th. This should be the only time the launch ramp will be closed for this project.The south side launch ramp will remain open for use during this period.Any questions give me a call or send an email.Thanks – JerryJerry CaseSuperintendentBighorn Canyon NRAPO Box 7458Fort Smith, MT 59035406-666-3300406-696-7605 (cell)406-666-2415 (fax)

Baucus hoping for relief for flood victims

This just came from our good friend Brianne with Baucus’ office, and may be pertinent for many of you who have suffered from the floods and high water. Thanks Brianne!I wanted to make sure you saw the press release below lists programs that Montana is already eligible for under the current Disaster Declaration near the bottom, but also gives a little background on the Govs request for Individual Assistance Big Horn is one of the counties included in the request.Should the President authorize individual assistance, FEMA can provide temporary housing, money to rent a different place to live, or a government provided housing unit when rental properties are not available. FEMA can also provide money to homeowners to repair damage from the disaster to their primary residence that is not covered by insurance or, to replace a home destroyed in the disaster that is not covered by insurance, or money to reconstruct a home. This type of help occurs only in insular areas or remote locations specified by FEMA, where no other type of housing assistance is possible.Also, if the Individual Assistance request is approved, SBA will provide low interest disaster loans to homeowners, renters, businesses to repair or replace real estate, personal property, machinery equipment, inventory and business assets that have been damaged or destroyed by the floods.Thought this might be helpful as you watch that river start to rise again after what I can only imagine has been an exhausting spring.Thanks,Bree July 13, 2011***For Immediate Release***BAUCUS PRESSES SWIFT APPROVAL OF RELIEF FOR MONTANA FAMILIES AND BUSINESS HURT BY FLOODS Senator Urges President to Help Montana Homeowners, Businesses, Farmers, Ranchers Now (Washington, D.C.) Montanas senior U.S. Senator Max Baucus called on President Barack Obama today to quickly approve Montanas request for federal assistance for Montana families and businesses hurt by recent flooding. The major disaster declaration issued on June 17th included public assistance for communities, but the state did not request a formal declaration to cover individuals, such as farmers, ranchers, business owners and homeowners, until yesterday. Baucus has also identified several additional programs that can be made available to Montanans and is pressing federal agencies to make those programs known and available to Montanans immediately. All across Montana, families and businesses are suffering from devastating damage caused by floods, Baucus said. Every day they wait for assistance is another day a family goes without water, a local business remains closed and a farmer or rancher cant work the land. These folks arent just our neighbors, they are the engines that keep our economy moving. I’m looking under every rock to find ways to help Montana businesses and families recover, and I’m pressing federal agencies to make those resources known and available now. Baucus staff continued to meet with Montana flood victims and local officials across the state last week. Baucus has also reached out to local Montana officials to offer assistance navigating claims for the public assistance that is available under the current declaration, telling them not to accept any denial of federal assistance until his office has reviewed their claims. And he continues to look for ways to meet specific needs of Montana communities and individuals beyond assistance available through the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), including nearly $1 million in additional support from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Flows to increase to 11,000cfs

This arrived from Reclamation a few hours ago: Yellowtail Stakeholders and Interested Parties: This message is to provide you with notification of Reclamations plans to increase our releases from Yellowtail Dam to the Bighorn River. In cooperation with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), we are planning to make the following change this afternoon:Wednesday, July 13 at 4:00 PM: Releases from Yellowtail will be increased from 10,000 cfs to 11,000 cfs.We are continuing to work closely with the USACE regarding our operations at Yellowtail to safely managing the remaining flood control storage in Yellowtail Reservoir. Please be advised that additional increases in our releases may be necessary in the coming days. We are continuing to post updates to the operational conditions at Yellowtail Dam on a daily basis on the Montana Area Office website at http://www.usbr.gov/gp/mtao. The information for Yellowtail Dam is located under the heading Updated Yellowtail Operations Status. Please let me know if you have any questions about these updates or about our current operations at Yellowtail Dam. Thanks again, Steve DaviesU.S. Bureau of ReclamationMontana Area OfficeOffice: 406-247-7322Cell: 406-855-1446sdavies@usbr.gov