River levels at Billings begin to flatten, water plant back in operation

ROB ROGERS

Water levels along the Yellowstone River at Billings appear to have peaked late Wednesday morning and may now be flattening out.

Overnight, the river rose to 16 feet, a full foot higher than its record crest of 15 feet in 1997 and a foot and a half higher than what was initially forecast for the city earlier this week. 

By 9 a.m. on Wednesday the Yellowstone had climbed to 16.4 feet and then appeared to jump to 17.52 feet at 11 .a.m., according to data from the National Weather Service. By 12:45 p.m. levels had dropped to 16.3 feet.

For much of Wednesday afternoon, the river level hovered between 16.4 and 16.7 feet.

The Yellowstone is considered to be in major flood stage when it reaches 15.5 feet. As the river kept climbing on Tuesday it overwhelmed the Billings City water treatment plant, forcing crews to shut it down shortly before midnight. The river needs to be at 15 feet or below for the plant to operate effectively.

Pumps are deployed at the Billings Water Treatment Plant as the Yellowstone River at Billings hits the highest level on record

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