Jeremy Butcher, superintendent of hydro, left, and BJ Cope, senior engineer, discuss plans to restore river flows on Dec. 1, 2021.PHOTO COURTESY NWENERGY NorthWestern Energy employees watch as Travis Wilson, a diver from Associated Underwater Services, starts to get in the river to make the repair at Hebgen Dam on Dec. 1, 2021. PHOTO COURTESY NW ENERGY

Flows on Madison River restored after late-Wednesday night Hebgen Dam gate repair

The Hebgen Dam release gate is open and outflows to the Madison River were restored just before midnight on Wednesday, Dec. 1. Follow-up work is still required, but water in the river has reached normal levels.

NorthWestern Energy hydro engineers and personnel worked around the clock to develop a repair plan and restore gate functionality and river flows to the Madison River as quickly as possible, safely. 

Anaconda Foundry Fabrication Company (AFFCO) fabricated and machined the new gate component. Their staff worked through the night Tuesday and all day Wednesday to manufacture the part, then delivered it to Hebgen Dam Wednesday evening.

“This successful repair was the culmination of outstanding effort by many NorthWestern Energy employees and partner contractors. From the time this issue was identified, work was underway without stoppage until the river flows were restored,” said Jeremy Clotfelter, director of Hydro Operations.

The repair was completed safely and without requiring any further flow reduction in the river.

NorthWestern extends our sincere gratitude for the hard work of our partner agencies through this event, and especially to all who volunteered time with the fish relocation effort on the river. It is the Montana way to see all uniting for a common cause to help the Madison River.

“It’s heartwarming to see all uniting for a common cause to help the Madison River. These efforts will surely prove beneficial for years to come,” said Clotfelter. 

About 15 NorthWestern Energy employees also joined the volunteer effort that gathered at Madison Foods Wednesday morning. The staff at Madison Foods helped our volunteers to distribute water and food from Ennis to volunteers working at the river in conjunction with Montana Fish Wildlife & Parks’ efforts.

“Our focus now turns to analysis of the failure and impacts to the river and fishery. While we know what failed on the gate, we need to identify ‘how’ and ‘why’ it failed to best establish corrective actions that would prevent a similar failure in the future,” said Clotfelter.

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The Madisonian

65 N. MT Hwy 287
Ennis, MT 59729

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