Billings Shuts Down Water Plant & Asks Residents to Conserve Water
Written by Caleb Nelson on June 15, 2022
The ongoing “500-year” flooding event of the Yellowstone River has forced the City of Billings water plant to shut down. The city is asking residents to “conserve water” when and if possible.
It is worth noting that the scope of the flooding and its total damage is currently under evaluation as teams are just starting the process of accessing this ongoing and dynamic situation both in Billings and in all impacted communities.
According to a recent statement from the Billings City Government, flooding on the Yellowstone River “forced Public Works to shut down its water plant late Tuesday night.”
As of this morning, water levels at the plant reached “more than 16” feet. Public Works added that for the plant to maintain its operations safely and effectively, “the river needs to be at 15 feet or below.”
During this time, while the plant is shut down, the city is informing residents that they “might notice water pressure decreasing” until plant operations can be resumed.
Director of Public Works Debi Meling said this morning, “the Yellowstone River reached 87,000 cubic feet per second.” “Last year at this time we had 8,000 CFS and it was a record low,” Meling said.
Currently, stores like Target, Albertsons, and CVS are running low on bottled water. The floodwater, according to a local source, has not receded enough for Public Works teams to examine the damage to the water plant. Information from a recent Q&A with Public Works, Billings has a “day to a day-and-a-half of water supply” before the city runs out (if the water plant cannot be turned back on).
Public Works is tasked with ensuring that “the plant will never distribute water that isn’t safe to drink.” As the city monitors the flooding, they plan to distribute updates to the community and region with alerts via social media and local news channels as well as on the smart phone app “Code Red.”
Other city operations are joining the effort to conserve water during this largely unprecedented high-water event, including the Fire Department, Parks and Recreation, and the Street-Traffic Division.
This story will be updated as new information becomes available and as the City of Billings updates its residents.