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Flathead Lake water level rises

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Riverside Park Polson
Posted at 2:47 PM, Jun 23, 2022
and last updated 2022-06-24 10:07:11-04

POLSON - The water levels in Flathead Lake have reached the highest point since the flood of 1964 according to Energy Keepers, Inc.

The rise in lake elevation is allowing outflows at the naturally restricted outlet at Highway 93 Bridge at Polson to increase, reaching 55,800 cubic feet per second on Wednesday, according to a release from Energy Keepers Inc.

Flathead Lake has risen to an elevation of 2893.42' mean sea level as measured at the USGS Flathead Lake Gauge at Polson.

The flows into Flathead Lake from the Flathead, Swan, Stillwater, and Whitefish rivers are forecasted to remain in excess of 60,000 cubic feet per second for the next several days.

This imbalance of inflow to outflow will continue to raise the elevation of Flathead Lake to an estimated 2893.6' mean sea level in the coming days.

This elevation exceeds the normal high water elevation of Flathead Lake by 0.6 feet, approximately 7 inches.

Energy Keepers notes this will likely result in some docks being overtopped which is the case at Riverside Park just below the Highway 93 Bridge in Polson.

Riverside Park Polson
High levels on Flathead Lake resulting in some docks over topped at Riverside Park in Polson.

The Tribes also say the elevation of the water above the SKQ Project is being managed to assure no restriction of flow by the project as the lake continues to rise and force more flows downstream.

Outflows from SKQ Dam Wednesday reached 55,800 cubic feet per second which is 57% of the flow capacity of the SKQ Project. The capacity at the SKQ Project with 14 gates is 112,000 cubic feet per second.

Currently, two spill gates are out for planned maintenance bringing the capacity at the project to 98,000 cubic feet per second. Accommodating forecasted increases will not be an issue at the SKQ Project.

Additionally, Energy Keepers Inc. on Wednesday reports they received a threat to the operations of the project and initiated safety and security protocols. Due to this threat, the project is closed to public access until further notice.

The SKQ Dam, formerly known as Kerr Dam, is managed by Energy Keepers Inc., which is a corporation of Confederated Salish Kootenai Tribes.