Reclamation Announces Declining Storage Levels in Fresno and Nelson Reservoirs

Media Contact: Jack Conner, (406) 247-7300,

For Release: July 28, 2017

BILLINGS, Mont. -- Storage levels in Fresno and Nelson Reservoirs are expected to continue declining through the middle of August. Both facilities primarily store water for irrigation and municipal use for the Milk River Project.

Above average temperatures coupled with below average precipitation has led to irrigation demands remaining higher than normal. Additionally, these conditions are resulting in lower than normal inflows into both reservoirs. Fresno Reservoir is projected to reach elevation 2544, approximately 12 feet lower than the current elevation, near the middle of August. This level is 31 feet below the full storage level of elevation 2575 feet. Nelson Reservoir is projected to reach elevation 2509, approximately 5 feet lower than current elevation, around the same time frame. This is 12.6 feet below the full storage level of 2221.6 feet.

Irrigation operations will start ramping down for Milk River Project beneficiaries in early August, about a month sooner than normal. Both reservoirs are expected to gain storage after the middle of August into October as water from the St. Mary River Basin will continue to be transferred to the Milk River Basin.

Recreationists are encouraged to use extra caution regarding changing reservoir levels. Boat launching conditions are expected to become increasingly challenging as reservoir levels continue to decline. The intake structure is also exposed and the public is encouraged to stay clear due to safety issues.

For further questions, please contact Jack Conner at (406) 247-7300, or

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Reclamation is the largest wholesale water supplier in the United States, and the nation's second largest producer of hydroelectric power. Its facilities also provide substantial flood control, recreation, and fish and wildlife benefits. Visit our website at and follow us on Twitter @USBR.

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