The Prairie Dog Creek watershed begins approximately 15 miles south of Sheridan and flows north
to its confluence with the Tongue River near the Montana border. The watershed comprises
approximately 236,000 acres. The major tributaries in this watershed are Meade, Jenks, Jim, SR,
Arkansas, Coutant, Wildcat and Dutch Creeks.
The Prairie Dog watershed supports irrigated as well as dryland agriculture, however, cattle
production is the primary agricultural industry in the watershed. In the 1880's three significant trans-basin
water diversions were built. These diversions were built to divert water from North Piney
Creek into the Prairie Dog watershed. While these diversions opened up thousands of acres for
irrigation, they have created an unnatural hydrologic condition. Because of the steepness of the upper
portion of the watershed, the diversions have created areas of significant erosion. Prairie Dog Creek
is currently on the Department of Environmental Quality's (DEQ) "Needs to be Monitored" list.
This study was initiated during the summer of 2000, and was completed in December 2001.
While the project was underway, the 24 landowners in the Hidden Hills Subdivision proposed
looking at a water system. This subdivision is within the Prairie Dog Creek Watershed and an
additional 40 other homeowners are within the area. It was determined that the most efficient use of
funds would be to add this as a level I investigation to the ongoing watershed project.
The first option for a water supply would be to try to tie into the Sheridan area system. The second
option would be to look at a stand-alone system from local groundwater supplies.
The study proposes solutions to the existing problem areas. The needs of all the water users within
the watershed must be considered as part of the solutions. Erosion and problems with the irrigation
water delivery systems were the most significant problems identified. There are also some channel
instability problems and water quality problems that may need to be addressed. The recommended
solution for the Hidden Hills subdivision water supply is to connect to the Sheridan Area Water
RECOMMENDED LEGISLATIVE ACTION:
No legislative action required at this time.