Monday May 8, 2023

Billings Gazette

In order to keep water from spilling over an Idaho dam, the Bureau of Reclamation has told Wyoming officials that it plans to cut flows out of Jackson Lake Dam to what could be fish-killing levels downstream.

The bureau’s Upper Snake Field Office notified the state the releases would be cut for six to eight weeks starting May 10 to prevent water from topping Milner Dam, which is located east of Twin Falls, Idaho. The agency cited concerns about above-average snowpack, according to a Wyoming Game and Fish Department press release.

The Snake River drainage currently has a snowpack 124% of normal. Milner Lake had a water elevation of 10 feet. Since the aged dam was reconstructed to create hydropower, the highest lake level was 11.5 feet in 2021.

According to WGFD, the Bureau of Reclamation intends to reduce water flows from 280 cubic feet per second to 50 cfs. The minimum flow required to maintain the fishery below the dam and maintain water within the world-famous Oxbow Bend is 280 cfs.

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