Dry April Leads To Lower Water Level At Fort Peck Reservoir

BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers said the Upper Missouri River Basin has recorded the ninth driest April in 123 years of record keeping.

As a result, Fort Peck Reservoir’s elevation is 4 feet (1.2 meters) lower than it was last year and 9 feet (2.7 meters) lower than in 2019, The Billings Gazette reported.

The Bureau of Reclamation also is predicting lower inflows to Bighorn Reservoir this spring — only 66% of average. Inflows spiked temporarily in early April as Buffalo Bill Reservoir released water to flush sediments down the Shoshone River.

Canyon Ferry Reservoir is currently 2 feet below the minimum level to launch boats at the popular Shannon Recreation Area near the dam, according to Reclamation’s website.

On the Missouri River, runoff was 44% of average, and Corps forecasters are predicting 69% of average runoff will flow into its reservoirs this spring.

“I urge all water users, particularly intake owners, to begin preparing for the possibility of lower river levels later this summer and during the fall and winter,” said John Remus, chief of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’, Missouri River Basin Water Management Division, in a news release.

Based on the Corps’ forecast, flow support for navigation on the lower Missouri River for barge traffic will be reduced during the second half of the navigation season, the agency predicted.