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Savage Unit
Photo of hay bales, a crop that benefits from the irrigation provided by the project.
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Pick Sloan Missouri Basin Program
General Description| Plan| Development| Benefits
General Description

There are 2,200 acres of irrigable land in the Savage Unit of the Pick-Sloan Missouri Basin Program. The town of Savage is about 1 mile east of the center of the unit. Principal features include a feeder canal, pumping plant, and main canal.

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Water is delivered to the pumping plant by means of a feeder canal about 100 feet long extending from the Lower Yellowstone Project Main Canal. The present capacity of the canal is sufficient, without enlargement, to supply the Savage Unit. The pumping plant is located about 3.5 miles south of the town of Savage. It contains two motor-driven 250-horsepower pumps, each discharging 21 cubic feet per second with an 84-foot head. Power to operate the pumps is delivered over lines of the Montana-Dakota Utilities Co. to a Reclamation-constructed substation at Savage, 4 miles northeast of the pumping plant; then from the substation to the pumping plant by a 12.4 kilovolt transmission line built by the Lower Yellowstone Rural Electrification Administration under a joint-use agreement with the Bureau of Reclamation. The 7.8-mile-long canal has a capacity of 44 cubic feet per second. The laterals, constructed to serve 2,200 acres, total 6.2 miles in length.

Operating Agencies

On August 8, 1950, the Board of Control of the Lower Yellowstone Project became the operating agency and assumed the operation and maintenance responsibilities.

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Landowners of the Savage Unit have been interested in irrigation for many years. Agitation for development arose as early as 1920 and, as the Lower Yellowstone Project prospered and became fully developed, interest in getting water to the adjacent higher land increased. Private capital was not available, however, to finance the cost of construction. With pumping necessary, lack of power presented a problem to either private or Federal development until power from Fort Peck Dam became available. Proposing to use this source of power, the farmers and community leaders requested the assistance of the Bureau of Reclamation in the irrigation development of the unit.


The area now comprising the Savage Unit was surveyed during the investigations and construction of the Lower Yellowstone Project in 1903-1909. Additional investigations were made in 1941. The detailed investigations leading to construction of the unit were undertaken during 1945-1946.


Savage Unit was authorized by the Flood Control Act of December 22, 1944, Public Law 534, which approved the general comprehensive plan set forth in Senate Document 191 and House Document 475, as revised and coordinated by Senate Document 247, 78th Congress, 2d session.


Construction of the irrigation facilities began April 18, 1949, and was completed December 6, 1949. The first water was made available for irrigation on May 27, 1950.

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The principal cash crop is sugar beets. Other crops include small grains, alfalfa and other hay crops, pasture, silage, and dry beans.

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Last updated: Aug 03, 2010