Bighorn Canal

The Crow Irrigation Project (CIP) is located in south central Montana on the Crow Indian Reservation. The 600 cubic-feet-per-second (cfs) Bighorn Canal is owned and operated by the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) and serves about 25,000 irrigated acres. The CIP, including the Bighorn Canal, were originally constructed about 100 years ago. Due to the age of the system, many critical structures are in poor condition and threaten the ability to deliver water without major repair or replacement. Occasional emergency repairs have also been needed to avoid an extended shutdown during irrigation season.

DOWL designed several reconstruction projects, including the replacement of two flumes with eight-foot and nine-foot-diameter inverted siphons as well as a new wasteway structure. DOWL also completed two emergency repair and canal lining projects to prevent failure of the canal into the Bighorn River. Several other large canal structures have been designed, but not constructed to date due to funding limitations.

DOWL designed the new structures to provide long-term solutions to historic problems within limited budgets and with designs that allowed efficient construction during the cold weather of irrigation off-season. DOWL responded to the 2014 emergency canal repair very quickly and coordinated with the BIA and contractor on a design-build basis. This quick response and coordination resulted in only a six-day shutdown of the canal to complete the repairs during peak irrigation season.




Mountain West


Bureau of Indian Affairs




Construction Administration and Inspection

Dams and Irrigation



Survey and Mapping