Libby sandbagging; Bonners Ferry flooding
Libby Dam outflows raised to 56,000 cfs
June 18, 2006
Story by KLCB News – Libby Radio
The highest flows since the opening of Libby dam in 1974 ran in the Kootenai River Saturday.
The Corps of Engineers increased the flows to above 55,000 cubic feet per second (cfs) causing flood stage at Bonners Ferry and sandbagging of some homes on the river in Libby.
Friday the Corps raised the river level to 43,000 cfs and by mid-afternoon Saturday was releasing 55,000 cfs as a result of heavy rain storms in the Eureka area that caused an earthen dam at Olney to breach. That same storm caused increased flow into Lake Koocanusa on the order of 62,000 cfs, according to the Corps.
Sunday morning the Corps was reporting inflow at 62,000 cfs, with discharge at 56,000 cfs.
Meanwhile, Governor Brian Schweitzer is criticizing the Libby Dam operations, indicating it could have been avoided.
"While the short-term decision this last weekend to spill at Libby was probably necessary for flood control," said the Governor, "it begs the question of how the feds operate the dam year round," Schweitzer said Wednesday.
"If the federal government operated the dams with the primary objective of not harming the residents who live near them, a secondary objective of providing for the resident fish, and lastly to assist the recovery of salmon hundreds of miles away in the Columbia River, we wouldn't run into these situations," Schweitzer said.
The end of week storm left three roads washed out in the Eureka area. Lincoln County Commissioner Rita Windom told KLCB News that the County Commissioners have issued a declaration for public emergency. That action will allow for the use of State resources to deal with the resultant damages. The County has the option to institute a 2-mil county-wide levy to raise funds for repairs, which Windom indicated was not pending.
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