Helena Valley Regulating Reservoir

Media Contact: Todd Dixon, 406-247-7300
Mark Andersen, 406-247-7610

For Release: September 08, 2003

The Bureau of Reclamation (Reclamation) plans to lower the water surface elevation of the Helena Valley Regulating Reservoir during October to facilitate structural investigations of the Helena Valley Dam.

The data collection efforts are a routine part of Reclamation's Dam Safety Program, which analyzes and evaluates the continued safe performance of the agency's dams. The investigations will provide geologic information and allow for visual inspection of areas immediately upstream of the dam that are normally under water, and will include drilling and excavation of several shallow test trenches in the vicinity of the dam.

Under the draw-down plan, routine releases from the dam for irrigation and municipal purposes will continue until about October 1 when pumps will begin lowering the water surface. An anticipated water surface elevation of 3790 feet will be reached on or about October 14 and will be maintained for about one week while the structural investigations take place.

Refilling of the reservoir is scheduled to begin on or about October 21 and will continue for about two weeks until the reservoir is returned to a normal fall elevation of 3810 feet. Water quality sampling and monitoring for possible impacts to the fishery will be performed throughout the drawdown and refilling period.

Helena Valley Dam was constructed in 1957-1958. Water stored in the reservoir is used by the Helena Valley Irrigation District and the City of Helena. No impacts to either the district or the city water supplies are anticipated. Public access to the facility will be limited during the draw-down and refilling period, but Reclamation plans to maintain public access to the boat ramp throughout the investigations.

Reclamation and Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks (FWP) will conduct a public meeting to answer questions on the reservoir draw-down plan at 7:00 pm on September 17, 2003 in the West Valley Volunteer Fire Department Fire Hall at 1151 Forestvale Road. Additional information regarding the draw-down, alternatives considered in the decision-making process, and the potential impacts to the reservoir fishery will be available at the meeting from Reclamation and FWP representatives.

Questions or comments prior to the meeting may be directed to Mark Snoozy of the Bureau of Reclamation at (406) 247-7300.

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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 and follow us on Twitter @USBR.

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