||Sacrifice Conservation and the 2000
In 2000 Montana experienced what many experts are calling the worst drought year
since 1977 and the worst wildfire year since 1910. By early August the Jefferson River had
dropped to just 20 cubic feet per second below Waterloo Bridge.
fledgling Jefferson River Watershed Council which had barely existed a year ago --
managed to reach consensus on a drought management plan and instream flow targets. Through
a combination of conservation measures, shared sacrifice, and better communication, the
watershed council met its instream flow targets for all but seven days. This included a
goal of keeping at least 50 cubic feet per second in the river below Waterloo Bridge. The
river never experienced the extremely low September flows that were seen in the previous
drought year of 1994.
While streams were going dry all over Montana, flows in the upper Jefferson River
actually increased almost continuously during the first three weeks of August. The three
largest ditches on the river substantially limited their diversions, and flows in these
ditches were 5 - 20% below normal almost continuously from mid-July onward.
The Montana Rivers Project
National Center for Appropriate Technology
P.O. Box 3838
3040 Continental Drive
Butte, Montana 59702