The Rapid Valley unit is in Pennington County, S. Dak., and extends from the east city limits of Rapid City southeastward for 21 miles along Rapid Creek.
The bedrock formations that underlie the region are chiefly marine in origin, and they generally dip eastward from the center of the Black Hills uplift. The exposed formations are of Cretaceous age and consist of the Greenhorn limestone, the Carlile shale, the Niobrara formation, and the Pierre shale. The Pierre shale, which underlies the unconsolidated flood plain and terrace deposits in much Of the region is exposed in the erosional slopes along the south side of the valley and in the deeper draws on the north side. The areas in which the other formations are exposed are relatively small and are restricted to the western part of-the region.
Four terraces are present on the north side of Rapid Creek. The lowest terrace and the flood plain in the western half of the region are irrigated at the present time, and the two lower terraces and the flood plain in the eastern half have been proposed for irrigation.
Abundant supplies of ground water occur in the flood plain and terrace deposits where they are now irrigated. Because the waterbearing materials consist of interfingering layers of differing permeability, the ground water is under water-table conditions in some places whereas it is confined in others.
Locally, where there is a confining layer below other water-bearing materials or where a confined layer is itself saturated, the ground water may occur under both water-table and artesian conditions. Seepage from irrigation canals, which is the principal source of recharge, causes high ground-water levels from June to November; as a result, parts of the areas have become waterlogged. In the parts of the region that are not now affected by irrigation, the surface of the ground water is only a few feet above the bedrock surface and 6 ft to 42 ft below land surface; its position is relatively constant throughout
Harmful concentrations of salt in the soil are in part due to evaporation of ground water. These are found only locally in the Rapid Valley region and do not present a serious problem at this time. It is thought, however, that the fine-grained materials underlying the Rapid terrace may contain sufficient salt to cause detrimental salt accumulations in the soil if the proposed irrigation causes ground-water levels to rise close to the surface.
Lining of the irrigation canals would reduce the amount of seepage and would effect a lowering of ground-water levels, if irrigation practices are extended to other areas, drainage facilities will be necessary both to avoid aggravating the existing conditions of waterlogging and to prevent the waterlogging of other low-lying lands.
The flow of Rapid Creek is affected by a variety of conditions. A few miles west of Rapid City, where Rapid Creek flows over the Englewood and Pahasapa limestones and the Minnelusa sandstone, there is a loss of about 8 cfs of water in a distance of a few miles. In the 3-mile reach of Rapid Creek between the Canyon Lake stream-gaging station and the Rapid City stream-gaging station there is a gain of about 20 cfs; much of this gain in flow may be attributed to the inflow from Cleghorn and Jackson springs and to the addition of water from the State-owned cement plant. In the Rapid Valley unit, the flow of the creek during the irrigation season is affected largely by the amount of water diverted for irrigation. The irrigation canals act as bypass channels, much of the water being returned to Rapid Creek by way of spillage into normally dry tributary creek channels and by movement through ground-water bodies that discharge into Rapid Creek.
Additional publication details
USGS Numbered Series
Ground-water resources of the Rapid Valley unit, Cheyenne Division, South Dakota, with a section on the surface waters of Rapid Valley