Construction work begins on water project

Construction work is now beginning on two major Montana Water projects funded in part through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.
The first construction element at the Buffalo Rapids Watershed Project involved installation of a center Pivot Irrigation system. The project is located in the Buffalo Rapids Irrigation District which covers over 24-thousand acres in parts of Custer, Prairie and Dawson Counties. The Federal share cost of the project is $281,000.

The project involves installation of new irrigation equipment and the burial of water-carrying pipelines. All water for the project is diverted from the Yellowstone River through five pumping plants and one re-lift plant.  When completed the amount of energy required to pump irrigation water will be significantly reduced.  The project will provide improved irrigation water quantity and quality conserving water associated with cropland irrigation.

Construction is also getting underway on the three-stage Lower Birch Creek Watershed canal and waste-way improvement project. 
The Watershed is located in Pondera County.  The project will stabilize severe gully erosion by conveying excess irrigation flows back into the Lower Birch Creek, the original source of irrigation water.

Water will be returned to stable outlets in the stream corridor through buried pipelines. Federal funding through ARRA is $527,000 with an additional $366,000 paid by partners; Pondera County Canal and Reservoir Company and the Pondera County Soil and Water Conservation District.

When completed 25,000 tons of sediment deposited annually into more than 18 miles of stream fisheries will be significantly reduced and water quality significantly improved.

Irrigation run-off, which through the years has caused severe erosion will be diverted back to its original source.

Both projects are part of the Obama Administration’s plans to modernize the nation’s infrastructure, jumpstart the economy, and create jobs.

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsak recently announced $84.8 million is being allocated to state and local governments throughout the nation to improve water quality, increase water supply, decrease soil erosion and improve fish and wildlife habitat as part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.