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Canal breach threatens irrigation season for Nebraska, Wyoming Ag Producers

Canal breach threatens irrigation season for Nebraska, Wyoming Ag Producers
Damaged Ft. Laramie Canal near Lingle, WY (Guzman/KNEB/RRN)

A breach on the Ft. Laramie Canal in Wyoming south of Ft. Laramie will force a stop to irrigation water deliveries for North Platte Valley ag producers on the south side of the river in both Wyoming and Nebraska.

Jay Dallman, Public Affairs Representative for the Bureau of Reclamation in Mills, Wyoming, tells KNEB News the problem became apparent when alarms were issued around 3 a.m. this morning. “There was a (partial) collapse in a tunnel, which backed up the water in the canal and caused a breach in the canal bank upstream of the tunnel,” says Dallman. The site of the damage was located about 1.5 miles southeast of Ft. Laramie.

Dallman says diversions of river water at Whalen Dam have been stopped, so more than 13 miles of upstream canal can be de-watered to allow a full inspection of damage to the tunnel and canal.

About 104,000 acres of irrigated farmland in Wyoming and Nebraska are affected, impacting agriculture producers served by the Goshen and Gering-Ft. Laramie Irrigation Districts, as well as the Wright-Murphy Ditch Company.

Gering-Ft. Laramie General Manager Rick Preston tells us temporary fixes are being considered, however, depending on what the engineers find, there is the possibility water deliveries may not resume at all for the balance of this year’s growing season.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Bureau of Reclamation officials initially identified the location of the breach as near Lingle; the updated version indicates the correct location of the canal breach.

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