Water flows meeting

Jon Roberts, of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, gives a presentation Thursday during a meeting hosted by the Bureau of Reclamation at the Teton County Library. The annual meeting where officials field questions from community stakeholders about the season ahead drew heightened attention on the heels of a controversy about managing water flows through Oxbow Bend just below Jackson Lake Dam.

The Bureau of Reclamation faced criticism Thursday when it met with Teton County river runners, some of whom feel like the federal water managers are ignoring the “environmental needs” of the Snake River.

Bureau officials also laid out how they plan to manage Jackson Lake Dam for the rest of the summer. Until late June, they plan to hold flows beneath the dam at 280 cubic feet per second, the “absolute minimum” needed to keep water flowing through Oxbow Bend and maintain habitat within the iconic stretch of river.

Teacup diagram 5/18/2023

The “teacup diagram” showing how full dams in the Upper Snake River Basin were on Thursday, May 18. American Falls Reservoir and Lake Walcott, critical large storage basins in the system, are almost full, concerning water managers.

Jackson Lake Dam

The Bureau of Reclamation was considering dropping releases from Jackson Lake Dam to 50 cfs, about a fifth of the Snake River’s typical winter flows. The reason: Water levels are high enough in reservoirs farther down the Snake that the feds are worried about having to spill water from the system, which could make them unable to meet water demand later in the season.

Contact Billy Arnold at 732-7063 or barnold@jhnewsandguide.com.

Environmental Reporter

Billy Arnold has been covering the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem and the people who manage it since January 2022. He previously spent two years covering Teton County government, and a year editing Scene. Tips welcomed.

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