Residents along Big Horn River prepare for possible flooding, co - KULR8.com | Montana's News Leader | Billings, MT

Residents along Big Horn River prepare for possible flooding, consequences of increased river flow

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Hardin's Mayor Jack Lane says crews added this concrete "rip rap" along the Big Horn River to prevent flooding and related damange to the city's water system Hardin's Mayor Jack Lane says crews added this concrete "rip rap" along the Big Horn River to prevent flooding and related damange to the city's water system
Cones indicate where the Big Horn River is wearing away the banks and roads in Hardin Cones indicate where the Big Horn River is wearing away the banks and roads in Hardin

The Hardin community is taking extra precaution to protect roads and residents from an increase in the Big Horn River's flow. 

Hardin's Mayor John "Jack" Lane said people living along the Big Horn River are growing concerned over the increase in height and flow of the water, and the river is continuing to erode the surrounding bank. 

"When the water comes through at 14,000 cubic feet per second, it's coming through fast," Lane said. "It's like taking a saw to a piece of wood."

Lane said crews spent several days adding piles of concrete "rip rap" along the banks of the river to prevent flooding and protect the land covering the city's water pipes. Lane said the Big Horn River has already consumed as much as 50 feet from some of the surrounding riverbanks, and swallowed islands that were once visible. 

"If things went badly, it could break the water line from which the city draws most of the water," Lane said. 

Lane and Hardin's Public Works Superintendent, Russel Dill, met Monday to discuss precautions to take due to the increasing river flow. The Bureau Of Reclamation's Clayton Jordan said the increase in river runoff is to prevent a larger disaster occurring if melting snowpack overcrowds the Big Horn River's reservoirs. 

"We need to keep the space available in those reservoirs, so at this point there is no guarantees will there will be less water released from those reservoirs into the rivers, it depends on temperatures and how fast the snow melts," Jordan said. 

Jordan said the Bureau Of Reclamation is holding regular meetings and working with stakeholders along the rivers to address concerns and help people prepare to continue seeing higher release levels. At this time, Hardin residents are being advised to help conserve water by

  • not filling their swimming pool full of water
  • not washing their car
  • not watering their lawn

Lane and Dill are also in communication with the Bureau Of Reclamation, and plan on continuing to inform residents and take precaution to protect their community. 

If you have other concerns related to the river, Jordan encourages residents to communicate with their local DES coordinator.  For more information on Hardin's water conservation precautions, you can contact Russel Dill at 406-665-9260

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