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Thompson Falls Reservoir 16-foot draw down begins Oct. 6

Date: Sep 1, 2023

Thompson Falls, Mont. – Sept. 1, 2023 – On Oct. 6,  NorthWestern Energy will begin drawing down the reservoir at the Thompson Falls Hydro Development about 16 feet from the current full-pool level to replace wooden flash boards along the bottom 8.5 feet on the face of the main dam.  

“The wooden flash boards on the main dam have been in place for about 50 years,” said NorthWestern Energy Hydro Foreman Noel Jacobson. “The boards are leaking water which requires a high level of maintenance and frequent repairs. Replacing the boards will reduce maintenance and make the dam perform more efficiently.”

A 250-cfs (cubic feet per second) water leak through the dam, about 1,870 gallons per second, equals almost a megawatt of power, enough energy for about 650 homes a year.

The flashboards, located on the lower 8.5 feet of the main dam’s upstream face in front of steel I-beams, are used to seal water in the dam’s reservoir. Eight-foot drop panels on the upper 8 feet of the main dam control the release of the water through and across the dam to create conditions for maximum energy generation.

The reservoir water drawdown will begin Oct. 6 and work will begin Oct. 11. The construction project will involve removing the eight-foot drop panels to access the old boards and then replacing them with new ones. The reservoir will be back to full pool by Oct. 26.

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NorthWestern Energy - Delivering a Bright Future

NorthWestern Energy provides essential energy infrastructure and valuable services that enrich lives and empower communities while serving as long-term partners to our customers and communities. We work to deliver safe, reliable, and innovative energy solutions that create value for customers, communities, employees, and investors. We do this by providing low-cost and reliable service performed by highly-adaptable and skilled employees. We provide electricity and / or natural gas to approximately 764,200 customers in Montana, South Dakota, Nebraska, and Yellowstone National Park. We have provided service in South Dakota and Nebraska since 1923 and in Montana since 2002.


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Jo Dee Black