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River Drawdown to Accommodate Black Eagle Dam Repairs Begins; Lower Water Levels Expected Above Dam from Aug. 3-12, 2016

Aug 03, 2016

Butte, Mont. – August 3, 2016 – NorthWestern Energy today began lowering the reservoir above Black Eagle Dam in Great Falls, a project that will allow repairs at the dam.

The drawdown began at 8 a.m. on Wednesday, August 3. Plans call for the water level to be lowered by five feet before it returns to normal levels on or before Aug. 12. Water levels at Broadwater Bay are not expected to see significant change during the drawdown.

Northwestern is urging caution among all those who may venture near the reservoir’s edge. Areas typically submerged will be exposed during the drawdown. These areas may contain hazards, such as wood debris, rocks and sediment bars that are closer to the surface. Caution should also be used to avoid any hazards that may exist along the shoreline and near the saturated, potentially unstable soils along the drawn-down reservoir.

The drawdown will be gradual as NorthWestern works to limit turbidity and any possible shore erosion. The utility has a detailed drawdown plan that was approved by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) in 2009. NorthWestern is licensed by FERC to operate Black Eagle and its other hydroelectric dams in Montana.

The drawdown will allow NorthWestern to remove and replace five rows of flash boards that are part of the spillway at Black Eagle Dam. The boards have been damaged over time due to exposure to water, ice, debris and other natural elements. The damaged flash boards allow leakage, which results in lost generation at the dam.

The drawdown will also allow for the repair of concrete upstream of the power house and the dam.

Crews will work to complete the project in a timely fashion. NorthWestern will work to minimize any disruption from the project.

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Media Contact:
Butch Larcombe
(866) 622-8081

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