Northwest Montana Reaches ‘Severe Drought’ Status – Missouri River Maintains As State’s Rivers Heat Up
Northwest Montana has reached "severe drought" status in the U.S. Drought Monitor as a lack of rain and high temperatures are beginning to heat up streams across the state.
That's resulting in fishing restrictions like western Montana saw earlier this week, lost business for outfitters and guides and less oxygen and more stress for fish. The Flathead Valley through Friday alone had gone 30 straight days without measurable rainfall.
But a 30-mile stretch of the Missouri River from Holter Lake to Cascade between Helena and Great Falls is withstanding the heat much better than most rivers and streams and continues to attract anglers.
Grant Grisak of Montana Fish, Wildlife and Park said flows on the Missouri River have been reasonable so far.
Single-day water use in Kalispell peaked at 9.6 million gallons and averaged more than 6.8 million gallons a day during June. Both measures represent more than a 50 percent increase over any of the previous three years. But City Manager Doug Russell said the city isn't having any problems meeting demand.
Grisak said the Missouri doesn't get as warm as most other rivers because its flows are regulated by dams.
Evergreen Water and Sewer District General Manager Roberta Struck said water demand was far higher than it's ever been for June.