Lower Yellowstone Project

Lower Yellowstone Intake Diversion Dam (Above) Yellowstone Intake Diversion Dam at low flow.

Bureau of Reclamation's Lower Yellowstone Project is located in eastern Montana and western North Dakota. Intake Diversion Dam is located approximately 70 miles upstream of the confluence of the Yellowstone and Missouri rivers near Glendive, Montana. The Lower Yellowstone Project was authorized by the Secretary of the Interior on May 10, 1904. Construction of the Lower Yellowstone Project began in 1905 and included Intake Diversion Dam (also known as Yellowstone River Diversion Dam) – a 12-foot high wood and stone diversion dam that spans the Yellowstone River and diverts water into the Main Canal for irrigation. The Lower Yellowstone Project was authorized to provide a dependable water supply sufficient to irrigate approximately 52,000 acres of land on the benches above the west bank of the Yellowstone River. Water is also supplied to irrigate approximately 830 acres in the Intake Irrigation Project and 2,200 acres in the Savage Unit. Both of the smaller irrigation projects pump water from the Main Canal. The average annual volume of water diverted for these projects is 327,046 acre-feet.

Pallid Sturgeon Passage and Entrainment Project

The U.S. Department of the Interior, Bureau of Reclamation (Reclamation) and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) are continuing evaluation of the proposed modifications to Intake Diversion Dam.

The modifications to reduce entrainment, construction of the new main canal headworks and installation of fish screens, began in October 2010 and have been completed. Irrigation deliveries using the new headworks began in April 2012. The second part of the proposed dam modifications to provide fish passage is being reevaluated by the lead agencies, in coordination with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service), Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks, Montana Department of Environmental Quality, and the Lower Yellowstone Irrigation District (District). The reevaluation is necessary because significant changes are being proposed and new information has become available regarding the proposed rock ramp since the 2010 EA and FONSI was released.

Lower Yellowstone Pallid Sturgeon Passage and Entrainment Project

Public Involvement - National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) Process:

Physical Model Study

Reclamation completed a physical model study that provided a detailed evaluation of the flow conditions at the downstream confluence of the Yellowstone River and the proposed Bypass Channel. This confluence area is vitally important to the success of the project because upstream migrating pallid sturgeon must find and navigate into the bypass channel. Water depths, velocity, and flow patterns were evaluated over a wide range of flows and conditions.

Endangered Species Act (ESA)


Lower Yellowstone Crop Irrigation

Scale Model of Intake Diversion Dam and Headworks

Video clips of the 1/20 scale physical model of the Yellowstone River, proposed Intake Diversion Dam, and proposed irrigation canal headworks. These video clips are unedited. This physical model focuses on the proposed diversion dam, canal headworks, and approximately the first 500 feet of the rock ramp. There was not enough space in the lab to build the model to this scale and have enough room for the entire rock ramp. Once the canal headworks model study is completed, the model will be torn down and rebuilt with the diversion dam and full rock ramp. The vertical beams in the model are the building support beams and unfortunately could not be avoided.

Some of the current sampling taking place includes; canal headworks flow, fish screen efficiency, dye tests to determine water movement, entrainment tests using neutrally buoyant beads, and sedimentation sampling. The red dots on the bottom of the model assist with some of these tests.

There are two flow regimes demonstrated in these clips; 15,000 cubic feet per second (cfs) and 38,000 cfs. Flow regimes of 3,000 cfs, 7,000 cfs, and 30,000 cfs were also sampled. In the middle of the “top view” videos, there are three horizontal aluminum beams that span the model. The diversion dam is under the beam closest to the camera. The headwork and screens are on the left side of the model next to the closest vertical beam and is best viewed at the end of the two “top view” videos. The screens are cylindrical and on the bottom of the canal headworks. The diversion dam is best viewed from the “side view” video.

Video 1: 15kcfs Top View

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Video 2: 15kcfs Side View

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Video 3: 38kcfs Top View

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Intake Diversion Dam Modification Project History Reports:


Last Updated: 5/14/15