Flathead Lake Drought Mitigation Plan
As the largest freshwater lake west of the Mississippi River, Flathead Lake and the Flathead River provides abundant wildlife habitat, cultural resource, recreational and economic opportunities along with water storage for Montana's Kerr Dam hydroelectric project which is situated on the reservation of the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes. When the original FERC operating license expired, the Bureau of Indian Affairs inserted 4e conditions into the project operating license for the benefit of tribal trust resources. Among these conditions included cessation of peaking operations and inclusion of minimum in stream flows, which, in a drought year would conflict with the flood control rule curves. The license required preparation of a drought management plan to resolve these conflicts which have the potential for significant impact to the human and natural environments. Submission of a proposed drought management plan by the project operator to the Secretary of Interior constituted a major federal decision making action and triggered the NEPA process. HDR led a multi-year EIS effort which included scoping, modeling, and alternatives analysis, as well as agency and public coordination and comment processes, and tribal trust decisions. The result was the production of draft and final EIS documents along with a Drought Management Plan for Flathead Lake using hydro-climate based forecasts to resolve conflicts between minimum flows and flood control rule curves.