Historically low water levels at Canyon Ferry leave docks dry, boat launches unusable

Historically low water levels leaves docks dry, boat launches unusable
Posted at 3:13 PM, May 27, 2022
and last updated 2022-05-30 10:59:01-04

CANYON FERRY — The United States Bureau of Reclamation reported this week that water flowing into Canyon Ferry in April was the lowest it had been since 1961, leaving boat launches unusable and docks dry.

Water levels are 18 feet below average due to delayed runoff, and at Kim's Marina, most of the docks are unusable.

"Well, it's definitely unusual, and it's pretty hard to get our boats into the slips, of course, and from what I hear, the snowpack is still in the mountains. It has been a cold spring, and we are waiting for some warmer weather and some rain that will bring the levels up," said Lukas Jewett, owner of Kim’s Marina.

Jewett says he's doing all he can do is try to accommodate his guests.

"There isn't a whole lot we can do at the moment. We did put an alternative boat ramp in so we can accommodate smaller boats up to 24 feet so that we can put the boats in the water," said Jewett.

Due to low water levels, most of the boat launches on Canyon Ferry are closed, and at the Shannon Boat Launch, it takes more than 27 feet from the end of the launch to get to the water, but Goose Bay and Yacht Basin Marina launches are open.

"If we can get to raise the elevation of Canyon Ferry about four or five feet, a lot of those boat launches become usable. We need some warmer temperatures to see those inflows start to come up," said Clayton Jordan, The Montana Office Bureau of Reclamation Civil Engineer.

The United States Bureau of Reclamation says that due to the snowpack in the Jefferson, Madison, and Gallatin basins being 100- 130 percent intact, the spring runoff is looking to come down later than normal.

"We're seeing some warm temperatures this week, things are going to get going here to start to see a little bit of that runoff, and then coming into this weekend is the cool off again, and that snowpack melt will slow up, and things run as kind of beat delayed, you know a little bit further," said Jordan.

But even when the runoff does arrive it may not be enough, levels could remain 4 to 10 feet below full pool in late June and the reservoir may not reach full pool at all this summer.

But for Jewett, he is still busy with guests celebrating Memorial Day weekend.

"There's a lot more to being out here and then just water, there's a lot of activities that people do like ATV and camping here and just to get out of town, you know, it's the first big weekend so, everybody is excited to come out, whether the lake is low or not," said Jewett.

Be sure to check the Bureau of Reclamation's website before making a trip out on the water.