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Milk River water level increases


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With recent rain and snow, the amount of water in the Milk River has led the federal Bureau of Reclamation to cut back on its release of water into the river. "Recent precipitation across the (Milk River) Basin has significantly changed water release forecasts from a few weeks ago," Mike LaFrentz, field manager of the Marias/Milk Rivers Division located in Chester, said in a press release. "The snow and rain will contribute towards a better water year for all Milk River project beneficiaries." As of this morning, the BOR website lists Fresno Reservoir at 100 percent full, with its flood-control pool 32.3 percent full. That compares to April 1, when the reservoir was listed as 54-percent full. Last week BOR reported flows over Fresno's spillway were greater than 700 cubic feet per second. The BOR had reduced the St. Mary Diversion, an irrigation project from the start of the last century that diverts water to the Milk River, diversions from the normal 500 cfs to 100 cfs to reduce the amount of water going into Fresno. Releases from Sherburne Reservoir, which stores water for the St. Mary Diversion, have been reduced to summer minimums, allowing the reservoir to start filling two weeks earlier than previously expected. Nelson Reservoir near Malta also was full, with excess water being released back into the Milk River. "This recent precipitation will enable our reservoirs to sustain higher pool levels longer into the summer months," said LaFrentz. "For the short term, high flows will be experienced on the Milk River below Fresno due to the higher-than-expected runoff that is occurring in the Basin above Fresno." Up-to-date information for the Milk River Project and other Reclamation projects throughout Montana can be found online at http://www.usbr.gov/gp/ lakes_reservoirs/montana_lakes.htm.


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