August 2-9, 2004

Canal diversion shutdown disrupts Milk River water supply

LETHBRIDGE, ALTA-A leak in the United States St Mary Canal diversion structure in Montana caused a sharp drop in water levels in the Milk River during the last week of July. All diversion through the canal to the Milk River was shut down, dropping flows to their natural levels of about 20 cubic feet per second (cfs). The average supplemented flow for this time of year is about 600 cfs. The towns of Milk River and Coutts, which rely on the Milk River for their drinking water supply, were notified and the Alberta government advised irrigators and water licence holders about the anticipated decreases in river flow, restricting water licences as required. By July 28, repairs to the structure had been completed and diversion of water back into the Milk River resumed. Alberta Environment, which provides real-time flow levels of the Milk River through its Web site, www.gov.ab.ca/env, anticipated full restoration of flows to the town of Milk River by early last week.
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