Columbia River System Operations

Libby Dam and Lake Koocanusa

Libby Dam and Lake Koocanusa

Libby Dam, Lake Koocanusa, and associated facilities are operated for Flood Risk Management, Hydropower, Recreation, Fish & Wildlife, and Water Quality.

Libby Dam was authorized by Congress in the 1950 Flood Control Act for hydropower and flood protection, and construction was completed in 1973. The dam is located on the Kootenai River, 17 miles upstream of Libby, Montana.
The reservoir behind the dam, Lake Koocanusa, extends 90 miles upstream into British Columbia, Canada.
Libby Dam is the fourth dam constructed under the Columbia River Treaty between the U.S. and Canada. The other three treaty projects are located in Canada.


Quick Facts

  • Stream: Kootenai River (RM 221.9)
  • Location: Libby, Montana
  • Owner: U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Seattle District
  • Authorized Purposes: Flood Control, Hydropower (1950 Flood Control Act)
  • Other Purposes: Recreation, Fish and Wildlife, Water Quality
  • Type of Project: Storage
  • Authorized Flood Storage: 4,980,000 acre-feet
Dam
  • Libby
  • Completed: 1973
  • Height: 432 feet
  • Length: 2,887 feet
  • Features: powerhouse, spillway
  • Forebay Elevation Normal Operating Range: 2,287-2,459 feet msl
  • Spillway Capacity (at full pool): 150,000 cfs
Powerhouse
  • Generation Capacity: 525 MW, 5 Units
  • Hydraulic Capacity: 24,100 cfs

Flood Risk Management

Libby operations for flood risk management are based on a variable flow operating criteria.Lake Koocanusahas nearly five million acre-feet of storage space available for local and regional flood control.

Hydropower

Libby Dam has 5 turbine units and a total generating capacity of 525 megawatts–enough to power roughly 400,000 homes.

Water Quality

Water quality is monitored and managed consistent with Clean Water Act and state standards for the health of aquatic species.

Recreation

There are nine Corps-managed public recreation areas and visitor facilities at Libby Dam and Lake Koocanusathat provide opportunities for a variety of activities, including fishing, camping, hiking, boating, and dam tours. The U.S. Forest Service manages additional recreation sites along the shores of Lake Koocanusa.

Fish & Wildlife

The Kootenai River, downstream of Libby Dam, is home to two fish species listed for protection under the Endangered Species Act –bull trout (threatened) and white sturgeon (endangered). Libby Dam is operated to provide adequate flows during critical periods for protection of these species. Lake Koocanusais home to a variety of sport fish, including rainbow trout, west slope cutthroat, brook trout, kokaneee salmon, burbot, whitefish, Kamloops trout, and others.

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