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Bureau updates irrigators of water and dam project

Bureau updates irrigators of water and dam project
Construction workers at the Guernsey Dam inspect a roller assembly, which was removed from the back of the gate. There are twelve roller assemblies on the gate. The rollers were corroded and had to be replaced, adding to the cost of the dam project. Courtesy Photo

The Guernsey Dam gate work is complete and just in time for the irrigation season.

The Wyoming Bureau of Reclamation held a meeting to inform its irrigators and others about the work and upcoming irrigation season in Scottsbluff on Tuesday, April 18.

The dam was projected to cost $3.5 million, but the project exceeded that cost.

“We did go over budget, but the gate work will now last another 50 years,” said Carlie Ronca, Wyoming area manager.

Part of what put the project over budget was the fact that once the water was drained, a variety of components were found that were corroded and needed work or replacing.

An example Ronca gave at the meeting were the roller train parts on the gate. Until they were visible and the contractors were able to inspect them, it wasn’t known they would need to be replaced.

“We replaced them with stainless steel rollers,” she said. “We also had to replace 635 bolts, which again until the water was drained and they could be inspected, we didn’t know they would need to be replaced.”

The final cost of the gate work is projected to be around $5.5 million, which will be split 50-50 between power suppliers who benefit from the electricity generated at the dam, and the 12 irrigation districts that contract with the Bureau.

The road, Lakeshore Dr., which had been closed during construction reopened on April 18.

The meeting also informed irrigators and others about the upcoming season for irrigation.

“We have really good carryover from last year in our reservoirs,” said Mahonri Williams, chief of the resources management division for the Wyoming Bureau of Reclamation. “In preparation for the snowmelt we are expecting this spring we have begun releases from Guernsey reservoir to make room for the runoff we are expecting.”

The releases are a bit earlier than usual, he added, but the flow rate is average. Since the irrigators are not diverting the water yet.
“What it means is more of the water stays in the river and continues on downstream” Williams said.

The bureau will update its weather projects at the beginning of May and will keep the public abreast of any changes to its projections.

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