BILLINGS, Mont. — The breach in the wall of an irrigation canal south of Sidney has left some sugar beet acreage high and dry.

The Aug. 21 breach blew out the main canal bank of the Lower Yellowstone Irrigation Project, flooding a nearby sheep farm, The Billings Gazette (http://bit.ly/2c8k0fw) reported. The ranch owners were able to rescue the sheep.

Sidney Sugars agricultural manager Duane Peters says the breach affects about 13,000 acres of beets.

“There’s 3,000 acres we’re really watching on a sandy, gravelly shelf,” Peters said. “Those beets are lying flat on the ground. It’s supposed to be 90 degrees through Thursday and Friday.”

Crews installed temporary dams to allow irrigators upstream from the break to continue watering their crops. Some downstream users are able to pull water from the Yellowstone River, Peters said.

Decaying tree roots likely created the path for the water to breach the side of the canal, irrigation project manager James Brower said. The repairs will cost about $500,000, and irrigators will foot the bill based on the amount of water they use.

Repairs were delayed for a couple of days last week after 63-year-old excavator driver Terry Klein of Sidney was fatally shot at the work site on Aug. 24. Another Sidney man, 35-year-old Raymond Hanson, is charged with deliberate homicide. He is jailed with bail set at $2 million. He has not entered a plea.


Information from: The Billings Gazette, http://www.billingsgazette.com