On Monday June 8th the Beaverhead County Drought Task Force held it’s monthly meeting at the Beaverhead County Court House. Gina Loss of the National Weather Service in Great Falls gave a presentation highlighted by the good news of a wet month of May. After a warm and dry winter that saw record low snowpack in parts of Beaverhead County and left Beaverhead River irrigators with reduced allotments, May delivered 2.81″ of rain at the Dillon Airport, which was 0.61″ above the average. As a result, Clark Canyon Reservoir gathered 10,425 acre feet of inflows, which was about 6,000 acre feet more than Bureau of Reclamation had forecasted under normal precipitation conditions. The Lima Water Users Irrigation Company was also able to take advantage of the healthy rains by delaying their opening date from May 25th to June 1st. Clark Canyon Reservoir and Lima Reservoir storage contents are currently at 95% and 90% of average for this time of year, respectively.
The wetter than normal conditions in May also prompted the NRCS to adjust the Surface Water Supply Index for the Beaverhead Watershed from “Extremely Dry” to “Slightly Dry”. However, the U.S. Drought Monitor still has southern Beaverhead County rated as “D1 Moderate Drought”. The outlook for the rest of the summer includes slight chances of above average temperature and precipitation, and average fire danger conditions.
After the conclusion of Loss’ presentation, the Beaverhead Watershed Committee members in attendance notified the Drought Task Force that the Bureau of Reclamation recently released two funding opportunity announcements – one for Drought Contingency Planning, and one for Drought Resiliency Projects. Proposals for both grants must be submitted by July 25th. A visiting member of the University of Montana Climate Office also notified the Drought Task Force of potential grant funding for drought and water supply monitoring. If you or your neighbors are interested in learning more about these grant opportunities, please contact the Beaverhead Watershed Committee at 683-3810.
The next meeting of the Beaverhead County Drought Task Force will be held on Monday, July 13th at 11am in the County Commissioners Meeting Room at the Beaverhead County Courthouse. The meetings are open to the public.