Read NWE reports and comment


The Northwestern Energy (NWE) Thompson Falls Hydro facility is working on the renewal of their Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) license. The last license was issued in 1979. I believe NWE has been and will continue to be excellent stewards of the Clark Fork River and surrounding lands, but with the new license proposal there are a few items of concern. The previous license allowed NWE to draft (lower) the reservoir level up to four feet at any given time. Over the last 45 years or so, NWE chose not to use the 4 foot draft as a normal operating procedure and the reservoir was typically maintained at full or near full level. NWE is proposing a 2.5 foot draft in the relicensing. This seems like a good thing, 4 feet to 2.5 feet. However, during the public meetings in Missoula and Thompson Falls, NWE indicated they intend on using the 2.5 foot draft for normal operations which means the reservoir can change up to 2.5 feet on a daily and even hourly basis.

During NWE’s 2021 and 2022 study periods, the reservoir was drafted for up to 2.5 feet but only for short periods of time. Drafting on a regular basis will most certainly have an impact on fish, ramps, docks, shorelines and recreation. Other reservoirs operated by NWE, such as the Holter and Hauser dams have been limited to a 1 foot draft in their relicensing approved by FERC back in 2000. Since the 1979 Thompson Falls FERC license, this area has significantly changed, going from very few homes on the reservoir to over 140 homes and structures, ramps and docks. A 2.5 foot draft is going to have an impact on many of these properties and the public recreational opportunities around the reservoir. Proposing a 1 foot draft as with Holter and Hauser would mitigate the impact of the currently proposed 2.5 foot draft.

I would encourage those of you who have property or recreate on the reservoir to read the NWE 2021 and 2022 study reports. The reports include pictures and detailed information regarding reservoir level impacts and can be found on or Thompson Falls relicensing. FERC is taking comments on the NWE study reports until July 9, 2023. Their website includes how to comment through eComment or US Mail. NWE’s license renewal process is still in the works. Now’s the time to comment.

Roscoe and Ruth Kronfuss,

Thompson Falls


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