Painted Rocks Dam is doing its usual thing this time of year - letting water over the spillway. The heavy snowpack and fairly wet spring have brought the reservoir level up to the point where the concrete spillway is pouring water into the West Fork of the Bitterroot River. There is also a headgate lower in the dam that is used most of the time for water coming out of the southern Bitterroot Valley lake. The dam is across the West Fork channel and incoming water is from Blue Joint Creek, Overwich Creek, Slate Stage Creek and Little Boulder Creek.

The Department of Natural Resources and Conservation owns the dam and makes sure the water is released when the Painted Rocks Water Users Association calls for it. The reservoir holds about 32,360 acre-feet of water and 25,000 acre-feet is earmarked for irrigation and in-stream fisheries, contracted by the Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks and the Painted Rocks Water Users Association. And, it's a great lake for boating and water skiing.

Looking down the spillway at a rainbow. (Mike Daniels, Townsquare Media)