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Great Plains Region
Billings, Mont.
Media Contact:
Todd Dixon
(406) 247-7303

Released On: July 22, 2004

St. Mary Canal Shut Down for Repairs
The Bureau of Reclamation's Acting Montana Area Manager, James Macartney, said Reclamation began reducing the flow of water in the St. Mary Canal Thursday and will completely shut off the flow by Monday after a leak was discovered in one of the siphons which convey the canal water across the St. Mary River near Babb, Mont. He noted because the water stored in Reclamation's downstream reservoirs is greater than average for this time of the year, water deliveries for irrigation and municipal use should not be seriously affected.

Macartney said the water had to be shut off to find the location and cause of the leak and to facilitate repairs. He said once the water is completely shut off, crews will determine what repairs need to be made and how long they will take.

Macartney said water which would normally be flowing through the canal during the shutoff can be held in Sherburne Lake. He said, however, the flow in the Milk River will be reduced by the amount of water which normally flows through the St. Mary Canal.

The canal conveys water from the St. Mary River for 29 miles where it empties into the Milk River. The water is then stored in Fresno and Nelson reservoirs for downstream irrigation and municipal uses in Montana.

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Reclamation is the largest wholesale water supplier and the second largest producer of hydroelectric power in the United States, with operations and facilities in the 17 Western States. Its facilities also provide substantial flood control, recreation, and fish and wildlife benefits. Visit our website at www.usbr.gov.