Milltown Milestone: Watch Online As River Returns To Natural Channel
With the dam and contaminated sediments removed, workers will restore the Clark Fork River to its natural path at noon today.
By New West, 12-16-10
Hundreds gathered at the Milltown Bluff Overlook to watch the initial dam breach in 2008. New West archive photo.
UPDATED: The Clark Fork Coalition is posting video on YouTube from today’s event.
Today marks a milestone in the Milltown Dam cleanup project east of Missoula. Beginning at noon, workers will divert the Clark Fork River back to its channel. For nearly three years, it flowed through a bypass channel while crews removed the dam and hauled away arsenic-tainted sediment behind the structure.
Can’t make it to Milltown for the festivities? Watch a live video feed of the diversion.
The Clark Fork Coalition explains what made the dam removal and sediment project necessary:
For 100 years, the dam plugged the river just eight miles upstream of Missoula at the confluence of the Clark Fork and Blackfoot rivers. The 180-acre reservoir behind Milltown Dam has been full of contaminated sediment—6.6 million cubic yards of it—that washed down from Butte’s copper mines during the record flood of 1908 and stacked up behind the dam. The contaminated sediment, laden with arsenic, poisoned local wells and copper for years and also killed off fish and other aquatic life during high flows and ice jams.