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Low snowpack may mean low water year in Madison Valley NorthWestern Energy monitoring conditions and working with stakeholders

Date: Feb 19, 2024

Butte, Mont. – Feb. 20, 2024 – Hebgen Reservoir area snowpack levels are less than 75% of the 30-year median level, one indication that there may be low water levels in the Madison Valley in the summer and fall.

“2024 may be another challenging water management year on the Madison River with potentially too little water to fully meet all of the needs in the system,” NorthWestern Energy Director of Hydro Operations Jeremy Clotfelter said. “NorthWestern Energy is monitoring conditions and forecasts closely, while working with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, Montana Fish Wildlife & Parks, the U.S. Forest Service, U.S. Bureau of Land Management, Montana Department of Environmental Quality, the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service and other stakeholders on options to conserve water.”

NorthWestern Energy owns and operates the Hebgen Dam and the Madison Dam on the Madison River.

Hebgen Reservoir water is used to control the flows on the upper and lower Madison River year round to protect and maintain the long-term health of the river system and the fishery.

“NorthWestern Energy’s stewardship responsibilities of the river resources include balancing the many interests of multiple stakeholders,” said Clotfelter.

Hebgen Reservoir is 4.22 feet from full pool, about 2.3 fee higher than the 20-year average.

Water releases from Hegben Dam are at 825 cubic feet per second, enough to provide the flows below Madison Dam required by NorthWestern Energy’s FERC license and to protect incubating eggs in brown trout redds, spawning nests in river gravel.

Current water levels at Hebgen Lake and flows and water temperatures are available at Learn more about NorthWestern Energy’s stewardship and management of the Madison River system at

The public is invited to a meeting from 6-8 p.m. April 22 at El Western, 4784 U.S. Highway 287, in Ennis to discuss Madison River topics, including snowpack and streamflow forecasts for the Madison River, fish populations and the projects sponsored by the Madison Fisheries Technical Advisory Committee. 

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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 775,300 customers in Montana, South Dakota, Nebraska, and Yellowstone National Park. Our operations in Montana and Yellowstone National Park are conducted through our subsidiary, NW Corp, and our operations in South Dakota and Nebraska are conducted through our subsidiary, NWE Public Service. We have provided service in South Dakota and Nebraska since 1923 and in Montana since 2002.

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Jo Dee Black