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Ditch project goes online

by Wyoming Livestock Roundup

Sheridan – Approximately 100 years ago men dug through a hillside by hand to pipe water for the Meade Creek Ditch Irrigation Drop. A century later, badly eroded soils and pipe decay call for repairs to the project.
    The Meade Creek ditch drop is located outside of Sheridan. The original ditch was hand dug and placed partway in pipe and after decades of use the pipe began to disintegrate. The ditch was one of several stops on the July 18 Wyoming Water Association summer tour held in Sheridan and Johnson counties.
    Vice President of the Meade Creek Irrigation District Jim Roach says four years ago the shareholders on the ditch saw the erosion getting worse and worse and set out to do something about it. To replace the existing system, the irrigation district turned to funding from the Wyoming Water Development Commission, the Sheridan County Conservation District and Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS).
    “The ditch covers a lot of country, but it goes through large landowners,” says Roach. “With only 12 or 13 landowners on the ditch, dividing the cost would have been too much.”
    The $500,000 project included construction of approximately 680 feet of new 24-inch irrigation pipe installed by directional drilling, new inlet and outlet structures and irrigation ditch extensions to connect the new structures to existing ditches.
    The purpose of the project was to cut down on erosion and ease some liability. Roach says the liability aspect came in the potential loss of livestock should they fall into the badly eroded area.
    Water was turned into the new pipe in mid-July and Roach says everything looks good so far. The ditch is running 11 cubic-feet-squared (cfs) and will run 15 to 18 cfs at peak season. The ditch does have rights to 20 cfs but Roach says the landowners have put in efficient systems and don’t require that much water.
    Roach says reclamation for the eroded area was taken out of the current project because the cost was too high. He says they plan to revisit the reclamation issue in the next couple of years and their current focus is on fixing the pipe.
    “About two weeks ago a visible section fell off,” says Roach. “The timing of this project was important because there would be more erosion this season.”
    The life of the project is expected to be approximately 50 years.
    Liz LeSatz is the 2008 Summer Intern for the Wyoming Livestock Roundup and can be reached at

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