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 in size. 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 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, 24 landowners in the Hidden Hills Subdivision asked the
WWDC to evaluate the feasibility of constructing a centralized 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
evaluate a connection to the Sheridan area system. The second option would be to look at a standalone
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 Supply System.
RECOMMENDED LEGISLATIVE ACTION:
No legislative action required at this time.