New channel for Prickly Pear Creek

Eve Byron, Excerpt from the Helena Independent Record

EAST HELENA — With the finesse of an oft-pounded pugilist, Prickly Pear Creek gracefully flowed Tuesday from one man-made creek bed into its newest channel, where it will reside until yet another bed is made for it.

The rerouting of the creek carries it away from two man-made lakes and the slag pile at the old Asarco lead smelting plant, which is the culmination of more than two years of planning and design, according to Jay Dehner, the project manager for the engineering firm CH2M Hill.

“A lot of hard work went into this day,” Dehner said as he watched the creek move through the diversion channel. “It’s a big day for the project; this was probably the hardest part of the work done in 2013.

“We started with concepts in 2011, worked through the design and permitting requirements for the creek in 2012, then excavation and construction in 2013. Now this sets us up for the realignment work.”

The three-quarter-mile-long channel is located between Prickly Pear Creek and Highway 518, south of Highway 12. Near the point of diversion, the creek ran fairly clear, with just a hint of sedimentation. Downstream in East Helena, it appeared a little more clouded, but project managers say that was expected and should clear within a few days.

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