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Streamflow statistics for unregulated and regulated conditions for selected locations on the Upper Yellowstone and Bighorn Rivers, Montana and Wyoming, 1928-2002

July 11, 2014

Major floods in 1996 and 1997 intensified public debate about the effects of human activities on the Yellowstone River. In 1999, the Yellowstone River Conservation District Council was formed to address conservation issues on the river. The Yellowstone River Conservation District Council partnered with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to carry out a cumulative effects study on the main stem of the Yellowstone River. The cumulative effects study is intended to provide a basis for future management decisions within the watershed. Streamflow statistics, such as flow-frequency data calculated for unregulated and regulated streamflow conditions, are a necessary component of the cumulative effects study.

The U.S. Geological Survey, in cooperation with the Yellowstone River Conservation District Council and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, calculated low-flow frequency data and general monthly and annual statistics for unregulated and regulated streamflow conditions for the Upper Yellowstone and Bighorn Rivers for the 1928–2002 study period; these data are presented in this report. Unregulated streamflow represents flow conditions during the 1928–2002 study period if there had been no water-resources development in the Yellowstone River Basin. Regulated streamflow represents estimates of flow conditions during the 1928–2002 study period if the level of water-resources development existing in 2002 was in place during the entire study period.