The importance of flushing flows to the health of the bug life in the Missouri

On November 11, 2017, at the behest of UMOWA, we held a meeting in Helena with the Federal Bureau of Reclamation (BOR), Northwestern Energy and Montana Fish Wildlife and Parks.  The purpose of the meeting was to demonstrate to the Bureau the importance of periodic flushing flows regarding the presence and proliferation of the macroinvertebrate population in the Upper Missouri river.  Many anglers have anecdotally noted a marked decrease in certain bug hatches over the past few years. Our scientific studies have documented that the lack of regular flushing flows in the river has led to siltation and a reduction in habitat for these bug species.

It is often overlooked or misinterpreted as to who is truly in charge of the flows. The answer is it is exclusively up to the Bureau of Reclamation to make decisions, often on an hourly basis, regarding water releases from the Canyon Ferry reservoir. Interestingly, Northwestern Energy has no ability to influence these flows as their operations are strictly controlled by the FARC contract with the Federal government to operate Hauser and Holter dams. Therefore, the ultimate and final agency with authority to influence Missouri river flows lies solely with the Bureau.

As you may know, UMOWA has been accumulating scientific data documenting this issue for the past three years. We presented this evidence at that meeting and received what I felt was a genuine interest and willingness to explore future cooperative efforts to achieve these flows.

We have established an open and frank bilateral communication agreement with the Bureau and will continue to make our case to them. Watch this site for updates on our progress.

Alan Shaw, UMOWA Board Chair

Please feel free to send me your comments and suggestions:   shaw195@aol.com

http://www.umowa.org/2018/02/01/the-importance-of-flushing-flows-to-the-health-of-the-bug-life-in-the-missouri/