Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks, Northwestern Energy, and various fishing groups in Montana are scrambling today (12/1) after water flow levels were severely compromised on the Upper Madison River in southwest Montana due to a malfunction on the Hebgen Lake dam. In a Facebook post on Tuesday, FW&P shared news of the incident.

Northwestern Energy is working on the situation.

In a Wednesday (12/1) press release, Northwestern Energy said their teams of hydro engineers and staff and are working "around the clock" to repair the malfunctioning gate that controls the flow of water to the popular fishing and recreational stretch of the stunning Upper Madison River. Northwestern Energy wrote,

Water was released over the dam’s spillway yesterday, which added some flow to the outlet gate releases to provide a small increase to the river flow. Equipment and crews will be at the site until the issue is resolved. The public should avoid the Hebgen Dam area.

Hebgen Dam was built in 1914 by the Montana Power Company. The spillway was replaced in 1960 after a major earthquake in 1959 (which created Quake Lake) heavily damaged the original spillway. The spillway and water gates were again replaced (somewhat recently), according to this un-dated post from hydro-engineering company McMillen Jacobs.

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Image via Google Earth
Image via Google Earth

Volunteers were stepping up on Wednesday.

Fishermen (and women) along with various concerned fishing organizations were quick to offer help in rescuing as many fish as possible. The Montana-based Veteran fishing group The Warriors & Quiet Fishing Foundation said on social media that members of their organization were coming out to help. Montana Trout Unlimited members were also helping and providing updates on the situation. Governor Gianforte said the Governor's Office is closely monitoring the dam malfunction in a Tweet earlier today.

An investigation is certain.

Depending on how long the river flow is interrupted will surely make a difference on how much damage to fish is likely to occur. Fishing pressure on the Madison River has only continued to increase and setbacks like this incident can't be great for the fish.

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