Clark Fork River Silt Deposit Near Missoula May Cause Perennial Flooding
Though the worst of the Missoula County flooding this year is likely over, National Weather Service Hydrologist Ray Nickless says he believes the swollen rivers this year may have created conditions where flooding is perennial in Missoula.
"Most of the Clark Fork River is channelized, you know, by levies and what not as it goes through Missoula, so the river doesn't have anywhere to deposit that sediment," Nickless said. "So the first chance to do that, it's going to do that, and that is just west of town near where the Clark Fork River connects to the Bitterroot River."
Nickless says the deposit there could take years to wash away, if not decades.
"Now, a large deposition of this sediment is building up the river channel and now it it that much easier for the water to start spreading out into that wide-open flood plain there, flooding the Orchard Homes area," Nickless said. "I kind of expect these problems to come back, there's been such a large deposition of sediment there, those type of flows can now happen every year or every other year."
Nickless says he hasn’t heard of any plan to try to remove some of the silt manually, but says that could cause more problems elsewhere in the river.