SKQ Dam Overlook Opens As Flathead Lake Rapidly Refills

Influx of water leading operators to prepare the dam near Polson for channel restriction

By Dillon Tabish
Kerr Dam near Polson on Aug. 12, 2015. Greg Lindstrom | Flathead Beacon

Spring runoff is in full swing earlier than usual, swelling bodies of water across the state and leading officials to prepare for Flathead Lake’s summer refill.

March’s water supply into the Flathead Basin was enormous, 297 percent of average compared to historical data. Precipitation accumulation was 7.48 inches, 223 percent of normal and average temperatures were 1.9 degrees warmer than normal. April is poised to be similarly wet, according to forecasts.

The influx of water is leading operators at Energy Keepers, Inc. to prepare the dam near Polson for channel restriction.

The company, a corporation of the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes that manages the dam, said Flathead Lake is rapidly filling by 26,000 cubic feet per second and outflow has hit roughly 23,200 cfs. By the end of April, the lake will have filled by another foot and should be full by June, when it reaches an elevation of 2,892 to 2,892.9 feet, according to Energy Keepers officials.

Spectators can witness the mighty outflow of water at Flathead Lake from the overlook at the south end of the former Kerr Dam, which was renamed Seli’š Ksanka Qlispe’ Project or SKQ Dam for short. The dam, located near Polson and completed in 1938, is 541 feet long and 205 feet tall.

Energy Keepers is opening the overlook and observatory area on April 14. Currently, the dam has six to seven gates open, creating a spectacular show of force from Flathead Lake into the river below.

Stay Connected with the Daily Roundup.

Sign up for our newsletter and get the best of the Beacon delivered every day to your inbox.