State Water Resources Research Institute Program

Project Id: 2010MT229B
Title: Student Fellowship: Distinguishing anthropogenic influences on a changing flow regime of the Upper Smith River, Meagher County, Montana
Project Type: Research
Start Date: 3/01/2010
End Date: 2/28/2011
Congressional District: At-large
Focus Categories: Geomorphological Processes, Surface Water, Water Quantity
Keywords: Smith River, Montana, irrigation, consumptive use, groundwater, groundwater withdrawal
Principal Investigator: Stanley, Andrea
Federal Funds: $ 1,000
Non-Federal Matching Funds: $ 0
Abstract: Water has many beneficial uses in the Upper Smith Watershed. Tourism and agriculture, the main economies of Meagher County, are dependent on the perennial flows of the Upper Smith River. The Smith River, a blue-ribbon fishing stream, draws anglers and boaters every summer. The Smith Valley, an agricultural community typical of the Montana landscape, relies on the same water to irrigate approximately 36,000 acres of land (Caldwell, 2009).

To meet the needs of growing economic activity, water development has been on the rise in the Smith Valley (Figure 1). Several of the big changes of the last few decades include: an increase in irrigated land, a change from flood to sprinkler irrigation techniques, and continued well drilling and pumping. How are these developments affecting the water flows in the Smith River? Is there enough water to meet all the current and future needs of the Smith community?

Progress/Completion Report, 2010, PDF

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