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DNRC Headquarters
1539 Eleventh Ave. Helena, MT 59601
Phone: (406) 444-2074 | Fax: (406) 444-2684
Questions? Email us

Painted Rocks Reservoir

Painted Rocks 2.jpg

Reservoir Operations

The operation of Painted Rocks Reservoir involves three main parties: DNRC, the Painted Rocks Water Users Association (PRWUA), and the Montana Fish, Wildlife, and Parks (FWP). Painted Rocks Reservoir stores approximately 32,362 acre-ft (ac-ft) of water, with 25,000 ac-ft marketed to the FWP and PRWUA. In addition, the Bitterroot River Water Commissioner manages the river to insure the apportionment and diversion of decree and contract waters.

DNRC owns the dam and the reservoir area. It is DNRC’s responsibility to insure that the reservoir is filled and operated safely and that water is available for delivery to the contract holders when it is called for.

The shares marketed to the PRWUA (10,000 ac-ft or 2/5th) is primarily used for agricultural purposes. This water can only be released when called for by the PRWUA. If you have any questions regarding the releases of contract irrigation water, please contact the PRWUA.
The shares marketed to FWP (15,000 ac-ft or 3/5ths) are used for in-stream flows. This water is released when called for by the FWP. If you have questions regarding the releases of contract fisheries water, please contact the FWP. The local FWP contact in the Bitterroot Valley is Chris Clancy (406-363-7169).

Date Last Updated:


Reservoir Elevation (FT_MSL)


Current Storage (ac-ft)


Inflows to Painted Rocks

Stream Name

Flow Rate (cfs)

Blue Joint Creek


West Fork Bitterroot River


Overwich Creek


Slate Stage


Little Boulder Creek


Total Inflow

86.9 cfs

Outflows from Painted Rocks Reservoir

USGS Gauge (ft)


Outflow before gate adjustment (cfs)


Outflow after gate adjustment (cfs)       


Water Contracts


Current Flow


Previous Flow Rate


Volume Delivered   Since Last Report (ac-ft)

Volume Delivered to Date (ac-ft)

Volume Remaining   (ac-ft)


Days Remaining at Current Flow

Irrigation   Contracts

(10,000 ac-ft)







In-Stream Fisheries   Contracts

(15,000 ac-ft)








The annual inspection of Painted Rocks Dam will be conducted on October 2nd & 3rd . In order to accommodate the scheduled inspection a series of gate adjustments will be required over this week, and next week, to gradually decrease the outflows from the reservoir. 


The outflows will be gradually reduced to match the current inflows (approximately 90 cfs) by October 1st


The outflows will be further reduced to approximately 50% of the inflows on the evening of the 2nd, in preparation for a temporary short term closure, of approximately 2 hours, on the morning of the 3rd. The interruption of outflows is necessary to allow the inspection of the outlet tube and gates.

Final adjustment of outflow to equal inflow will be made next week during the 5 year dam inspection.


Once the inspection has been completed the outflows will be increased to match the inflows. 


Additional outflow increases may be needed in order to insure that the reservoir is lowered to the required winter reservoir pool level.

Fisheries water contract deliveries are dictated by the MT FWP and irrigation water contract deliveries are dictated by the Painted Rocks Water Users Association. If you have any questions regarding the timing of the releases of contract water please contact the respective organization that owns the water.

Painted Rocks Dam outflow information
The USGS gage link information for the gage immediately below the dam:  This site has flows that are recorded/displayed every 15 minutes and can be assessed by anyone at any time. Therefore it will give you the most up to date outflow information available for Painted Rocks Dam.



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1424 9th Ave
Helena, MT 59620-1601
(406) 444-6646

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