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Draft environmental impact statement addendum for water reservation applications in the Upper Clark Fork Basin online

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STATE DOCUMENTS COLLECTION

MAR 22 1990



MONTANA STATE LIBRARY

1515 E- «th AVE.
HELENA, MONTANA 59620



CLARK 1^

CrtQ IT WATER RESERVATION
r\/mV APPLICATIONS



BASIN




Draft Environmental Impact Statement



s333.r°MlSTATE LIBRARY

■■■iiiiiiiiiiiiii

3 0864 00067219 9




DEPARTMENT OF NATURAL RESOURCES
AND CONSERVATION



STAN STEPHENS. aOVERNOH



LEE METCALF BUILDING

1S20 EAST SIXTH AVENUE



STATE OF MONTANA'



DIRECTORS OFFICE (406) 444 6699
TELEFAX NUMBER (406) 444-6721



HELENA, MONTANA S9620-2301



NOTICE

MARCH 16, 1990

The Department of Natural Resources and Conservation (DNRC) recently
completed an addendum to its draft environmental impact statement on
reservations of water in the Clark Fork basin above Milltown Dam.
Reservations of water are sought by the Granite Conservation District and the
Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks. The addendum presents an
analysis of Granite Conservation District's Boulder Creek water reservation
request. Copies of this addendum are being circulated for public review and
comment for 30 days, ending April 16, 1990.

Persons making written comments should address comments to:

John Tubbs

RE: Clark Fork Reservations

Department of Natural Resources and Conservation

Water Resources Division

1520 East Sixth Avenue

Helena, MT 59620-2301

In addition, a public meeting will be held to receive written or oral
comments on the addendum. The meeting will be held at the Drummond Community
Hall, April 4, 1990, and will start at 7:00 pm. This addendum and notice were
prepared pursuant to the Montana Environmental Policy Act and the Montana
Water Use Act. Copies of the addendum and this notice were filed with the
Governor and the Environmental Quality Council on March 16, 1990. Additional
copies of this addendum and the draft environmental impact statement can be
obtained by calling (406) 444-6637, or by writing to DNRC at the address
listed above.





'^ohn E. Tubbl
Water Management Bureau
Water Resources Division



CENTRALIZED SERVICES


CONSERVATION k RESOURCE


ENERGY


OIL AND GAS


WATER RESOURCES


DIVISION


DEVELOPMENT DIVISION


DIVISION


DIVISION


DIVISION


(40«l 444-6700


(40«l 444-SS67


14061 444-S697


I4Q6I 444-667S


140*1 444-MOI



9-'



Draft Environmental Impact Statement

ADDENDUM



FOR WATER
RESERVATION APPLICATIONS IN THE

UPPER CLARK FORK BASIN



March 1990



Montana Department of Natural Resources
and Conservation



CONTENTS



EXECUTIVE SUMMARY



ABBREVIATIONS vi



CHAPTER ONE: INTRODUCTION 1

COMMENTS ON THE DRAFT ADDENDUM 1

MONTANA WATER LAW AND RESERVATIONS 2

PHASED EIS PROCESS 3

DESCRIPTION OF GCD ' S BOULDER CREEK REQUEST 4

Need 7

Amount 7

Public Interest 8

DFWP'S INSTREAM FLOW REQUESTS AND GCD'S

NORTH FORK OF LOWER WILLOW CREEK RESERVATION REQUEST 9

DFWP'S Instream Flow Requests 9

GCD'S North Fork of Lower Willow Creek Request 9

CHAPTER TVO: EXISTING ENVIRONMENT 14

WATER QUANTITY 14

Hydrology 14

Water Rights 19

WATER QUALITY 23

FISHERIES 24

RECREATION 24

VEGETATION AND WILDLIFE 26

LAND USE 27

EARTH RESOURCES 27

Geology 27

Soils 27

SOCIOECONOMIC CONDITIONS 28

ARCHAEOLOGICAL AND HISTORICAL RESOURCES 30



CHAPTER THREE: IMPACTS OF THE PROPOSED RESERVATION AND ALTERNATIVES ... 32

CASE 1. EXISTING WATER RIGHTS CONSTRAIN DEVELOPMENT 32

CASE 2. EXISTING WATER RIGHTS DO NOT CONSTRAIN FUTURE WATER USE 34

WATER QUANTITY 3 4

WATER QUALITY 43

FISHERIES 43

RECREATION 45

VEGETATION AND WILDLIFE 46

LAND USE 46

EARTH RESOURCES 47

SOCIOECONOMIC IMPACTS 49

Population Impacts 49

Economy 50

Short-Term Economic Effects 50



Long-Term Economic Effects 50

Other Economic Effects 51

Public Service Impacts 54

Taxation Impacts 54

Boulder Creek and North Fork of Lower Willow Creek Projects 55

ARCHAEOLOGICAL AND HISTORICAL RESOURCES 55

ALTERNATIVES ANALYZED 55

Canal Modifications 56

Douglas Creek Alternative 56

Flint Creek Pumping Alternative 57

Granting Less than Requested 58

Deny GCD's Request or No Action 58

CHAPTER FOUR: BOARD DECISION CRITERIA 59

APPLICANT QUALIFICATIONS AND PURPOSE 59

NEED 59

AMOUNT 59

PUBLIC INTEREST 60

Expected Benefits and Costs of Applying Water to Proposed Use 60

The Net Benefits of Granting Versus Not Granting the Reservation. ... 61

Irreversible and Irretrievable Commitment of Resources 61

Water 61

Land 62

Energy 62

Aquatic Communities 62

Other 62

Health, Welfare, and Safety 62

Diligence 62

Adverse Effects 62



APPENDICES



APPENDIX A: Streamflov and Reservoir Volume 64



APPENDIX B: Project Costs 78

APPENDIX C: GCD Correspondence 85



APPENDIX D: Flint Creek Water Quality 87



REFERENCES CITED 89



LIST OF TABLES



1-1 Agencies with Possible Jurisdiction 5

1-2 DFWP's Reservation Requests 11

2-1 Fishing Pressure Estimates 26

2-2 Agricultural Product Sales 29

2-3 Recorded Historical and Archaeological Sites

in the Boulder Creek Project Area 31

3-1 Changes in Average Flows - Proposed Boulder Creek Project 36

3-2 Changes in Average Flows - Proposed Boulder Creek Project

and North Fork of Lower Willow Creek Projects ^1

3-3 Change in Power Production at MPC ' s and VWP's Facilities

due to GCD's Proposed Boulder Creek Reservoir 53

3-4 Change in Power Production at MPC ' s and VWP's

Facilities due to both GCD's Proposed Reservoirs 53



LIST OF FIGURES



1-1 Proposed Boulder Creek Reservoir, Canal, and

Irrigated Lands 6

1-2 Reservation Requests in the Upper Clark Fork

Basin 12

1-3 Lower Willow Creek Project Area 13

2-1 Boulder Creek below Proposed Reservoir -

Historical Flows 16

2-2 Boulder Creek at Maxville - Historical Flows 16

2-3 Flint Creek at Maxville - Historical Flows 17

2-4 Flint Creek near Mouth - Historical Flows 17

2-5 Clark Fork below Confluence with Gold Creek -

Historical Flows 18

2-6 Clark Fork below Confluence with Flint Creek -

Historical Flows 18

2-7 Clark Fork above Missoula and Bitterroot River -

Historical Flows & MPC's Milltown Water Right 21

2-8 Clark Fork below Thompson Falls Dam - Historical

Flows & MPC's Thompson Falls Water Right 21

2-9 Clark Fork below Noxon Rapids Dam - Historical

Flows St WWP's Noxon Water Rights 22

3-1 Boulder Creek below Proposed Reservoir - With

and Without Proposed Boulder Creek Project 37

3-2 Boulder Creek at Maxville - With and Without

Proposed Boulder Creek Project 37

3-3 Flint Creek near Mouth - With and Without

Proposed Boulder Creek Project 38

3-A Clark Fork below Confluence with Flint Creek

With and Without Proposed Boulder Creek Project 38

3-5 Boulder Creek Reservoir - Reservoir Volume

by Month 39

3-6 Flint Creek near Mouth - With and Without

Proposed Boulder Creek and N.F. Lower Willow Creek 42

3-7 Clark Fork below Confluence with Flint Creek With

and Without Proposed Boulder Creek and N.F. Lower

Willow Creek 42



EXECUTIVE SUMMARY



The Granite Conservation
District (GCD) has requested that
the Board of Natural Resources and
Conservation grant it a water
reservation for an irrigation
project. GCD proposes
constructing an 8,500 acre-foot
(af) reservoir in Boulder Creek, a
tributary of Flint Creek. The
water would be released into a
canal at the base of the proposed
dam and flow some 33 miles to
irrigate 4,093 acres. The total
amount of water needed to irrigate
this land is 13.998 af. This land
is now used for grazing and is
located south of Drummond on the
benches above and east of Flint
Creek.

The irrigation project would
substantially reduce flows in
Boulder Creek. On average,
Boulder Creek flows at Maxville
would be reduced by 13,319 af (38
percent) annually and by as much
as 94 percent in September. At
the mouth of Flint Creek, annual
depletions would average 5,309 af.
The annual depletion at the mouth
of Flint Creek is less than at
Boulder Creek near Maxville due to
irrigation return flows.



and Gird Creek. Canal seepage
would be large in the landslide
areas and there is the potential
for canal failure.

DNRC has determined that the
costs of the proposed project
outweigh the benefits of
irrigating and growing alfalfa on
the 4,093 acres. DNRC estimates
that the project would cost $30.4
million to construct and operate.
GCD estimates that the project
would cost $14.2 million. DNRC ' s
economic analysis looked at 300
different forecasts of crop prices
and yields. The project did not
return enough revenue to overcome
DNRC's cost estimate in any
forecast and only exceeded GCD's
cost estimate in one third of the
forecasts. If the project
received substantial state and
federal subsidies, it could be
financially feasible to develop
for local ranchers and would
benefit about 20 ranch families.
DNRC did not find any alternative
that was economically feasible.



Flow reductions would
adversely affect fish populations
in Boulder Creek and would also
decrease power production at
downstream hydropower facilities
on the Clark Fork main stem. The
reservoir would inundate
approximately 145 acres including
a county road that provides access
to Princeton and areas above
Princeton. An additional 206
acres would be affected by
construction of a 33-mile canal.
The canal route crosses over old
landslides between Boulder Creek



ABBREVIATIONS



af

ARM
ASCS

AUM
BHES

Board

BPA
cf s
DFWP
DHES

DNRC

DSL

EIS

EPA

FEMA

FERC

GCD

kv

k¥h

MCA

MEPA

mg/1

MPC

USDA

USDI

uses

WWP



acre-feet

Administrative Rules of Montana

Agriculture Stabilization and Conservation

Service

animal unit month

Montana Board of Health and Environmental

Sciences

Montana Board of Natural Resources and

Conservation

Bonneville Power Administration

cubic feet per second

Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks

Montana Department of Health and Environmental

Sciences

Montana Department of Natural Resources and

Conservation

Montana Department of State Lands

environmental impact statement

United States Environmental Protection Agency

Federal Emergency Management Agency

Federal Energy Regulatory Commission

Granite Conservation District

kilovolt

kilowatt-hour

Montana Codes Annotated

Montana Environmental Policy Act

milligrams per liter

Montana Power Company

United States Department of Agriculture

United States Department of the Interior

United States Geological Survey

Washington Water and Power Company



CHAPTER ONE
INTRODUCTION



The purpose of this addendum
to the draft environmental impact
statement (EIS) is to examine the
consequences of granting a water
reservation to the Granite
Conservation District (GCD) for a
proposed irrigation project. The
proposed 8,500 acre-foot (af)
Boulder Creek reservoir would
provide water to irrigate 4,093
acres on the bench lands along
Flint Creek, south of Drummond.
The draft EIS (DNRC 1988)
presented information on GCD's
proposed project on the North Fork
of Lower Willow Creek and on the
Department of Fish, Wildlife and
Park's (DFWP) application for
instream flow reservations in the
upper Clark Fork basin.

GCD included the Boulder Creek
project in its original
reservation application (GCD 1987)
as filed with the Department of
Natural Resources and Conservation
(DNRC). In a preliminary
engineering analysis of the
project, however, it appeared that
construction of the reservoir
would be infeasible. DNRC ' s
director met with GCD board
members to discuss the project in
the spring of 1988. At that
meeting, the director felt that
GCD would withdraw its request on
Boulder Creek. However, DNRC did
not receive any written notice of
the withdrawal.

After the upper Clark Fork
basin draft EIS was published, GCD
told DNRC officials that no
decision had been made to withdraw
the Boulder Creek proposal. On
July 27, 1989, the GCD board
chairman sent a letter to DNRC
stating GCD's intention to pursue
the Boulder Creek project



throughout the reservation process
so that the Board of Natural
Resources and Conservation (Board)
could make the final decision (a
copy of this letter is provided in
Appendix C) . GCD's decision to
pursue the Boulder Creek project
necessitated the publication of
this addendum to the draft EIS.



COMMENTS ON THE DRAFT ADDENDUM

Early in 1987, DNRC asked
state and federal agencies and
other organizations to identify
the issues that should be examined
in the EIS. The Boulder Creek
project was considered, as were
GCD's proposed North Fork of Lower
Willow Creek project and DFWP ' s
requests for instream flow
reservations. Written comments
were received from the U.S. Forest
Service, the Bonneville Power
Administration (BPA), the City of
Missoula, the U.S. Environmental
Protection Agency (EPA) , and the
Flint Creek Water Users'
Association. Other state agencies
that were asked about their
concerns included the Department
of Health and Environmental
Sciences (DHES), the Department of
Commerce, the Department of
Agriculture, the Department of
Revenue, and the Department of
State Lands (DSL). DNRC also
invited county commissioners,
local planners, representatives of
irrigation districts, and water
users' associations to
participate .

DNRC held public meetings in
Anaconda, Drummond, and Bonner on
March 30 and 31, and April 1,
1989, to present information on
the proposed reservations and to



gather comments from landowners,
water users, and other interested
parties. Issues discussed
included water availability and
water rights, the possibility of
leaving some water unallocated,
and the effects of stream
dewatering on water quality,
aquatic life, municipalities,
hydropower producers, and
industry. Participants discussed
the benefits of irrigation
development, including jobs,
benefits to the local economy, and
increased recreational
opportunities provided by new
reservoirs. DNRC used these
comments to help decide which
issues should be discussed in the
draft EIS and in this addendum.

After the draft EIS was
published, DNRC received numerous
comments concerning information
presented on DFWP ' s requests for
instream flow reservations and
GCD's North Fork of Lower Willow
Creek reservation request. The
deadline for comments on the draft
EIS was March 15, 1989. Responses
to these comments will be
presented in a final EIS, which
will be published after comments
are received on this draft
addendum.

DNRC will respond only to
substantive comments on this
addendum that relate directly to
the Boulder Creek project, its
possible impacts, and to DFWP ' s
instream flow requests on Boulder
Creek and downstream reaches.
DNRC does not intend to respond to
comments that focus on DFWP ' s
instream flow requests or GCD's
North Fork of Willow Creek
project. As mentioned above,
previous opportunities for such
comment have been given. All
comments will be printed in the
final EIS.



MONTANA WATER LAW AND RESERVATIONS

Water use in Montana is
generally guided by the legal
principle known as the prior
appropriation doctrine, "first in
time is first in right." A user's
right to a specific quantity of
water depends on when the use
began. The first person to use
water from a source established
the first right, the second person
was free to divert flows from what
was left, and so on. During a dry
year, the person with the earliest
date of use would have first
chance at the available water to
the limit of his established
right. The holder of the second
earliest priority date would have
the next chance, and so on.

After passage of the Water Use
Act in 1973, a permit must be
issued by DNRC in order for water
users to obtain a water right. A
general adjudication is being
conducted statewide by the courts
to determine the validity of
claims for pre-1973 water rights.
The nature and extent of these
claimed rights will not be
determined until a final court
decree is entered. A final decree
specifying existing rights for the
Clark Fork basin including the
Flint Creek basin is not expected
in the near future.

When the 1973 Legislature
passed the Montana Water Use Act,
it also allowed public entities to
reserve water for present and
future beneficial uses such as
irrigation, maintenance of
instream flows, and the protection
of water quality. Although DNRC
processes applications for
reservations, the Board makes the
decision to grant or deny a
reservation. The Board may grant
all or part of the water requested



and may place conditions on the
reservation. The Board may not
grant a reservation unless an
applicant satisfactorily
establishes :

1. the purpose of the
reservation,

2. the need for the
reservation,

3. the amount of water
necessary for the
reservation, and

4. that the reservation is in
the public interest.

The granting of a reservation
establishes a legal right similar
to other water rights in Montana.
If set aside for irrigation, the
water may go unused until the
irrigation project is built or
until a time specified by the
Board has passed. An applicant
must show diligence in putting the
reserved flows to use. To date,
reservations have been granted
only in the Yellowstone River
basin. In the Yellowstone
reservations, the Board set a
deadline of 30 years by which time
the water reserved for consumptive
purposes had to be put to
beneficial use.

Once reservations are granted,
only flows exceeding other water
rights and those protected by the
reservations will be available for
appropriation. Reservations
cannot adversely affect water
rights in existence at the time
the reservation is granted
(Section 85-2-316(9) MCA).
However, a reservation can be used
as a basis to object to future
permits or changes of existing
water rights.

The priority date of any
reservation application filed with
DNRC before October 1, 1989, is



the date that the Board grants the
reservation. The Montana
Legislature recently passed a bill
amending the statute concerning
the establishment of a priority
date. Senate Bill 447 states that
reservation applications or
notices of intention to apply for
a water reservation filed with
DNRC after October 1, 1989, will
receive a priority date "from the
filing." All pending reservation
applications in the upper Clark
Fork basin were filed before
October 1989. To maintain the
intent of HB 447, DNRC will not
accept notices of intent or
reservation applications for water
in the upper Clark Fork basin
until the Board has made final
decisions on the reservation
requests from GCD and DFWP.

The Board may extend, modify,
or revoke a reservation if it is
shown that the objectives of the
reservation are not being met.
The Board may also reallocate an
instream flow reservation to a
qualified reservant if the Board
finds that all or part of the
reservation is not required for
its purpose and the need for the
reallocation outweighs the need
shown by the original reservant.



PHASED EIS PROCESS

The draft EIS and addendum
were prepared to satisfy
requirements under the Montana
Water Use Act and the Montana
Environmental Policy Act (MEPA) .
This addendum provides information
for the Board to use in deciding
whether it should grant, modify,
or deny the GCD's Boulder Creek
reservation request.

If the Board should grant the
Boulder Creek reservation request.



it is possible that a second, more
detailed EIS would be required
prior to project development.
DNRC's environmental analysis of
GCD's proposed reservation is
preliminary. Before beginning
project construction, full
geotechnical investigations would
have to be conducted and sites
identified from which fill
material for the planned dam would
be taken. Also, land would have
to be acquired and final design
and operating plans prepared
before the dam could be built.
The participation of state or
federal agencies in the final
development of the Boulder Creek
project might require preparation
of a second EIS.

Agencies that would have
additional jurisdiction over
project development if the
proposed dam were to be
constructed today are listed in
Table 1-1. Depending on
legislative changes and specific
details concerning construction
and operation, additional permits
may be required.

DESCRIPTION OF GCD'S BOULDER CREEK
REQUEST

This section presents GCD's
explanation, in summary, of why
the reservation on Boulder Creek
•is needed, what amount of water is
required, and why granting the
reservation is in the public
interest. DNRC's analysis of
these questions is presented in
Chapter Four.

GCD seeks a water reservation
in Boulder Creek, a tributary of
Flint Creek. The proposed 8,500
af reservoir in Boulder Creek
would store -ater to irrigate
4,093 new acres (See Figure 1-1).
The amount of water requested by



GCD is 13,998 af per year. The
maximum flow rate requested is
106.7 cubic feet per second (cfs).
The reservoir would be used to
store water year-round. Water
would be delivered to project
lands between May 1 and September
30.

The reservoir would be located
approximately 3 1/2 miles upstream
of Maxville. The embankment would
be about 1A5 feet high and 1,150
feet wide. The reservoir would
inundate approximately 145 acres
when full. The water would flow
into a canal at the base of the
dam and then follow the contour
down Boulder Creek finally heading
north above Maxville (see Figure
1-1). Siphons would be required
to cross Gird, Douglas, and Barnes
creeks. The canal would split
when it crosses Douglas Creek.
The main canal would empty into
Douglas Creek (Southeast Quarter
of Section 25, Township 9 North,
Range 13 West). Water would be
diverted back into a canal about
one mile downstream (Southwest
Quarter of Section 24, Township 9
North, Range 13 West) . A smaller
amount of water would pass through
a siphon over Douglas Creek and
empty into a smaller canal
(Southeast Quarter of Section 25,
Township 9 North, Range 13 West) .
There would be approximately 33
miles of canal in total. Turnouts
would be placed in the canal to
service the irrigated lands. At
these turnouts, the water would
flow into pipelines and eventually
to wheelline irrigation systems.
The unique feature of the design
is that the pressure in the system
would be generated from gravity
and no pumps would be necessary.



Table 1-1. Agencies with Possible Jurisdiction



BPA

DFUP

DHES

DNRC

DSL

FERC

GCD

State Historic
Preservation Office

U.S. Army Corps
of Engineers

U.S. Bureau
of Reclamation



Review of easement concerns and access

Endangered and threatened species

Water quality and air quality permits

Dam safety construction permit

Hazard Reduction permit, BMP notification

Possible subordination of hydropower licenses

310 permit

Cultural and Historic Resources Survey

40A water quality permit

Small project loan program



USPS



Special use permit



FIGURE 1-1.
PROPOSED BOULDER CREEK RESERVOIR, CANAL, AND IRRIGATED LANDS




Need

GCD is applying for a
reservation to ensure water will
be available for the proposed
project on Boulder Creek. The
applicant notes that the proposed
project cannot be built under
present economic conditions. VHien
the economy becomes stronger, GCD
would use the water that it seeks
to reserve. If the reservation is
not granted, GCD contends that
unappropriated water may not be
available for two reasons:

1. "Water in the Clark Fork
drainage is presently over
appropriated for most of
the year" (GCD 1987) .

2. "The Department of Fish,
Wildlife and Parks is
requesting instream flow
reservations on Flint Creek
and Boulder Creek. Both of
these instream flow
requests could limit
development in the basin"
(GCD 1987) .

DNRC's analysis of need for
this project is presented in
Chapter Four.

Amount

GCD estimated the total
annual water demand for the
project to be 14,812 af. Of this
amount, 814 af will serve 238
acres of land currently irrigated
under water rights for Boulder
Creek water (the 238 acres are
reported in Water Resources
Survey: Granite County. Montana
(Montana State Engineer's Office
1959)). Therefore, GCD's
reservation request totals 13,998
af (14,812 af minus 814 af).

GCD is concerned that the



amount of water applied for might
not be legally available.
Objections to the pending water
reservation applications may be
filed by anyone whose property,
water rights, or interests may be


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