Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations
Montana news about the environment, natural resources, wildlife, climate change and more.

Gianforte’s request to release more water into Flathead Lake is denied

Satellite view of Flathead Lake in western Montana.
Copernicus Sentinel data 2018 for Sentinel data
Satellite view of Flathead Lake in western Montana.

Federal water regulators Friday denied the governor's request to release more water from the Hungry Horse Reservoir.

Gov. Greg Gianforte made the request to stabilize water levels in Flathead Lake, which are at historic lows.

A commission of tribal, state and federal agencies in charge of the Hungry Horse Reservoir rejected Gov. Gianforte’s formal request to let more water flow into Flathead Lake.

Gianforte asked the team to consider ways to release more water from the reservoir that would comply with federal law. Montana’s congressional delegation has made similar requests.

According to a release from the Army Corps of Engineers, the technical team denied the request because inflows to the Hungry Horse Reservoir are at historic lows and “any additional release of water at this time of year may jeopardize water supply for other uses later in the season and potentially into next year.”

Low lake levels are harming businesses and restaurants along the lake.

Montana House Rep. Ryan Zinke lambasted the decision, saying regulators care “more about fish than people.”

Gianforte’s office did not respond to a request for comment by deadline.

Aaron graduated from the University of Minnesota School of Journalism in 2015 after interning at Minnesota Public Radio. He landed his first reporting gig in Wrangell, Alaska where he enjoyed the remote Alaskan lifestyle and eventually moved back to the road system as the KBBI News Director in Homer, Alaska. He joined the MTPR team in 2019. Aaron now reports on all things in northwest Montana and statewide health care.
Become a sustaining member for as low as $5/month
Make an annual or one-time donation to support MTPR
Pay an existing pledge or update your payment information