On Low Water Levels at Flathead Lake, Tester Urges Bureau of Reclamation to Act Swiftly Once Agency Receives State Recommendations

Senator expresses concerns about the impact of low water levels on Montana’s small businesses

U.S. Senator Jon Tester today urged the Bureau of Reclamation (BOR) to act swiftly as soon as it receives recommendations from the State of Montana on mitigation options for water levels on Flathead Lake. Tester expressed that the lack of water poses a significant risk to public safety, small businesses, and farmers, and asked that the Biden Administration stay in close contact with communities surrounding the lake to assess changing conditions. 

“I am hearing directly from Montanans in the region that the low levels are threatening the livelihood of Montana small businesses,” Tester wrote. “These businesses range from farmers who need to irrigate a crop, marina owners who may not be able to keep boats in the water, and hospitality leaders who serve thousands of visitors that flock to Flathead Lake each summer. These agriculture and outdoor recreation jobs are the backbone of Montana’s economy, which is why it is critically important to act swiftly when the State of Montana and the TMT determine a preferred course of action.”

Deviations from water management plans for the basin are adjudicated by a Technical Management Team (TMT) at the request of one of the members of the TMT. The TMT is made up of several states, including the state of Montana, Tribes, and several federal agencies. Once BOR receives recommendations from the State and the Technical Management Team, it can work to safely mitigate the low water levels.

Tester’s letter continued: “I am pleased the Bureau of Reclamation is standing by to swiftly act on recommendations from the State of Montana and the Technical Management Team (TMT) on potential mitigation options for water levels on Flathead Lake. It is my hope that you will receive a recommended course of action from the state government and TMT soon. When you do, I ask that you prioritize getting them a response and taking actions on workable solutions for impacted Montanans.”

You can read Senator Tester’s letter HERE.