The problem: Approximately 2+ miles of stream channel were de-watered (totally dry) as a result of increasing irrigation needs and a lack of adequate recharge.
This portion of the stream was listed by Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks as "chronically dewatered."
- Persistent drought
- Stream over-appropriated
- Stress on fish populations
- Water quality degredation
- Inadequate water for irrigation
The solution: The Water Quality Protection District worked collaboratively with landowners, irrigators, irrigation companies, and state agencies to protect and restore water flow in the stream. The Prickly Pear Creek Rewatering Project is a joint effort between the Lewis and Clark County Water Quality Protection District (WQPD), the Helena Valley Irrigation District (HVID), Prickly Pear Creek water users (PPWU), US Bureau of Reclamation (BOR) and annual funders.
- Change water rights to in-stream use
- In-stream flow rights are enforceable
- Protect water rights
- Allows Ranchers/Farmers ability to diversify income
Project Partners : Helena Valley Irrigation District, Bureau of Reclamation, Prickly Pear Water Users, Prickly Pear Simmental Ranch and Lewis & Clark Water Quality Protection District
How it works:
- Montana Water Trust bought 2,000 acre-feet of water from the Bureau of Reclamation/Helena Valley Irrigation District for the Prickly Pear Water Users
- Helena Valley Irrigation District delivers the water to Prickly Pear Water Users' ditch system when flows in the Prickly Pear Creek hit 20 CFS (cubic feet/second) at Canyon Ferry Road.
- When the flows hit this 20 CFS trigger, Prickly Pear Water Users turn off their diversion and move from creek water to the water provided by Helena Irrigation District and Bureau of Reclamation.