Levee & Flood Information 

Missoula Flood Control Infrastructure

The City of Missoula currently owns and operates 5 critical flood control facilities: 4 accredited levees and 1 high-hazard dam. To function as designed these require regular maintenance. With the October 2016 formation of the Stormwater Utility, the City of Missoula is committed to maintaining these facilities. Learn more about Missoula's levee system operations and maintenance. For questions on Missoula's flood controls call the Stormwater Division at 406-552-6379.

What's Happening on the Levees?

Large machine removing cut branches from the levee with workers in orange vests standing nearby.

The Stormwater Utility is responsible for managing two federal levees on the north bank of the Clark Fork River (Madison to Orange and California to Russell), which protect over $14 billion in property.  The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers requires that vegetation greater than 4 inches in diameter at breast height be removed, to protect the integrity of the structures.  We recently worked with a local contractor to remove the large cottonwoods and non-native trees from the levees.  We used flagging to mark the native shrubs that were retained.  The Department of Natural Resources and Conservation is coordinating with the Federal Emergency Management Agency to revise the floodplain maps on the Clark Fork and Bitterroot Rivers through Missoula.  This remapping effort means that the Clark Fork levees must be recertified to retain their accreditation, to ensure properties behind the levees continue to be protected from the 1% annual chance flood (also known as the 100-year flood).  Our goal is to encourage the establishment of native shrubs, to provide wildlife habitat, shade the riprap, and improve riparian health.

Levee Inspections

The levees are designed and built for 100-year flood events. City Stormwater Division staff inspect the levees at least once a year.  Every other year, staff from the Army Corps of Engineers join the inspection with City staff. The Orchard Homes levee is a Missoula County levee. Find a levee near you with the help of US Army Corps of Engineers.

Areas At Risk

Low-lying or poor-draining areas may be inundated from river flooding, runoff, or an over-saturated groundwater table. As always, prepare and stay informed for coming flood conditions. See LIVE river conditions below.

Hourly River Conditions

If your property is at risk of flooding, stay informed about local conditions and the resources available to you.

Image Shows NOAA’s Hourly Clark Fork River Flood Stage and Cubic Feet Per Second (CFS) Opens in new window Image Shows NOAA’s Hourly Bitterroot River Flood Stage and Cubic Feet Per Second (CFS) Opens in new window

Know the Missoula River Conditions

Hydrologic Prediction offers hourly river level, flow, and flood information from Bitterroot, Clark Fork, and Rock Creek gauge stations, services operated by the NOAA;

WaterWatch shows near real-time flood conditions for all of Montana's monitored streams and their state of emergency compared to historic data, including an interactive map provided by USGS;

Local Missoula 5-day Forecast operated by the National Weather Service; or

Missoula County Stream Monitoring Stations current river gauge information operated by the USGS.

Septic Systems & Sewers

Floodwaters can cause wastewater to surface or to back up into houses on septic systems. If there is any sign of floodwaters backing up into a house, residents should clean and disinfect the area before using it. Residents also should not pump flood or groundwater into floor sinks or house drains, as that amount of water can overwhelm septic systems, leading to sewage surfacing on the ground or backing up in a house. If you see this on your property, the best solution is to plug all drains in the basement and drastically reduce water use in the house. Review the EPA's resources on septic system failures and their fact sheet on what to do once the flooding starts.

Waterborne Illnesses

See the Missoula County Health Department's tips on flooded wells, safe drinking water, and chemical storage. To safeguard against contaminated floodwaters (which may contain chemicals, sewage, bacteria, and viruses) the Health Department recommends residents ensure their tetanus shots are up to date. Prior to eating ensure your family's hands are washed with soap and water. This will help reduce risk to waterborne illness.

Be Prepared

Emergency Preparedness operated by the Missoula County Office of Emergency Management;

Flood Safety Information operated by the Missoula County Floodplain Program; and

Turn Around Don't Drown flood safety information from the National Weather Service.

If Expecting Trouble, Use Available Resources

Floodplain Administration operated by the City of Missoula;

Red Cross operated by the Red Cross Montana Chapter; and

The National Flood Insurance Program operated by FEMA.

The Missoula Valley Water Quality District (MVWQD), a division within the Missoula City-County Health Department, responds to illicit discharges.

If you would like to report an illicit discharge or have a stormwater construction site concern you may use the online reporting form or call 406-258-4890 during regular business hours or for an after-hours matter, please call 911.