Posted: Jul 4, 2012 7:40 AM by Dax VanFossen - KAJ News
Updated: Jul 4, 2012 7:44 AM
LIBBY- While parts of Montana east of the Continental Divide are already burning up, there's a different concern in Northwest Montana as Lincoln County residents are keeping an eye out for possible flooding.
Steady rainfall mixed with plenty of water flowing into Lake Koocanusa from Canada means more water is now pouring out of Libby Dam and heading down the river, prompting some Kootenai River residents to be knee-deep in worry.
Just one week ago water levels at the Libby Dam were spilling at 46,000 cubic feet per second, but as of Tuesday, they were spilling at 48,000 cubic feet per second.
Lake Koocanusa is actually slightly above full pool and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers had to receive a variance from Canadian officials to allow that to happen.
But more water is coming in than is going out and that water has to go somewhere, One property started to flood last Thursday and by Tuesday, water had taken over more of the property, and the homeowner is already running a sump pump, because he is getting water in his basement.
"The folks are talking about getting more ground water, there's a lot more standing water, their sump pumps are maxing out. They're having to go to additional sump pumps, to keep the water level low enough so that it doesn't affect their daylight basement's," explained Vic White with the Lincoln County Office of Emergency Management.
The Libby Dam is already spilling at 48,000 cubic feet per second, but with 70,000 cfs coming in, something has to give. White says the outflows could be increasing to over 50,000 cfs.
"Once we go into the 50's and we start heading into the mid 50's, we're definitely going to see quite a bit more sandbagging. Those property owners that we've talked to have voiced and are definitely making plans and preparations," White said.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers met on Tuesday to discuss the very real possibility of raising flows to the 50's within the next day or so, which put simply, the water will continue to rise downstream of the Libby Dam.
A Flood warning remains in effect for areas along the Kootenai River below Libby Dam until further notice.