Current Montana Streamflow Conditions
Current Montana Snowpack Conditions
Evapo- transpiration rates
River Watershed Council
Sacrifice Conservation and the 2000 Drought
A Win-Win Solution for
All of Montana's Water Users
||Why Promote Irrigation Efficiency?
Increasing competition for Montana's water has brought with it increasing social conflict
and created a need for new forms of cooperation and efficiency.
The Montana Rivers
Project works with irrigators on a cooperative basis, providing tools and information that
help them avoid overwatering, use water and energy more efficiently, maintain correct soil
moisture, and reduce their pumping expenses.
Since 1998 we have been working in the Jefferson and Boulder Valleys. We are
seeking new project locations, especially in places where increased stream flows can
benefit fish and wildlife.
|"I've been doing this for 31 years and I thought there was
nothing about irrigation that I didn't know. This certainly has changed the way I
look at it all."
- Jack Sullivan, Jefferson Valley
Are the Benefits to the Irrigator?
- A reliable and accurate way to track and maintain soil moisture. Takes the
guesswork out of watering.
- Assurance that crops are receiving the correct amount of water for optimal growth.
- Reduced pumping cost as a result of more efficient use of power and water.
- Reduced leaching of costly and polluting nutrients into groundwater.
|"Nobody that I know can look at the field and tell you how dry it
is beneath the surface... You push the button and it tells you how dry it really is."
- Dave Brown, Jefferson Valley irrigator
Does the Project Save Energy, Water, and Money?
NCAT works with irrigators on management techniques tailored to their needs. We
can perform energy audits, install weather stations, or monitor evapotranspiration rates
for locally grown crops. Our participants are currently using state-of-the-art AM400
soil moisture monitors. The AM400
- allows irrigators to check soil moisture whenever they like at up to six locations in
- automatically measures soil moisture every eight hours and displays the previous 35 days
of measurements in simple-to-read bar graph.
- records over ten months of soil moisture information, which can be downloaded at the end
|"I don't need to be irrigating just to see water pumping out
here. I'll only be irrigating when the crop needs the water and the soil needs the
- Bob Lombardi, Jefferson Valley irrigator
National Center for Appropriate Technology (NCAT) is a private non-profit organization
with offices in Butte, Montana and Fayetteville, Arkansas. NCAT runs programs on
sustainable agriculture, energy conservation, and resource-efficient housing. Since
1988, NCAT's irrigation specialists have audited more than 350 sprinkler irrigation
systems in Montana. In cooperation with Broadwater Conservation District, NCAT
ran Montana's first weather station-based irrigation project in 1993-4.
The Montana Rivers Project promotes cooperation among all of Montana's
water users and is supported by a diverse coalition of funders:
|"I hope this will be an ongoing program, as its benefits to
production ag in this valley are significant."
- Dave Scott, Jefferson Valley irrigator
|As a private non-profit organization, NCAT seeks to promote more efficient irrigation
for the benefit of all water users. Participation in this project is completely free and
voluntary. If you are interested in participating, have suggestions for this website, or
have ideas for improving irrigation efficiency in Montana, we'd like to hear from you.
Mike Morris, Project Leader
Phone: (406) 494-8660 or 1-800-275-6228 (ASK-NCAT)
The Montana Rivers Project
National Center for Appropriate Technology
P.O. Box 3838
3040 Continental Drive
Butte, Montana 59702