Canal Break

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Recovery Resources: 2019 Canal Break in the Goshen/Gering Fort Laramie Canal

This page is a joint venture of Nebraska Extension and University of Wyoming Extension


  • Surface-water irrigators in the North Platte River Valley south of the river in eastern Wyoming and western Nebraska their water supply for approximately six weeks during the 2019 growing season due to a partially collapsed tunnel and washout in the main supply canal that occurred July 17, 2019. The tunnel, built in 1917, conveys water for the Goshen Irrigation District (Wyoming) and the Gering-Ft Laramie Irrigation District (Nebraska). It is located 1.5 miles south of Fort Laramie, Wyoming, is 14 feet in diameter and is 2,200 feet long. After temporary repairs, water was returned to the canal system on Aug. 28, 2019, and service to irrigators was restored in the days and weeks that followed. 
  • The water disruption affected approximately 107,000 acres of crops, or about 35% of the total acres irrigated by surface water in the North Platte River Valley in both states. Approximately 55,000 acres are affected in Nebraska and 52,000 acres in Wyoming. Affected crops are corn, sugar beets, dry beans, and alfalfa. Both Wyoming and Nebraska declared a state emergency.


Nebraska Rural Resource hotline: 800-464-0258

The hotline offers access to many attorneys, financial advisors, professional counselors, mediators, clergy, and others. There are 167 behavioral health professionals working with the Rural Response Hotline. Ask about no-cost vouchers for counseling services.

Suicide prevention resources (PDF) - Wyoming

Staying Connected in Tough Times (Nebraska) (PDF)

Goshen County Resource Guide (Wyoming) (PDF)


Family Stress:

Nebraska Community Action Agencies:

Disaster Resources (Nebraska Flood):

CDC Disaster:

Financial Assistance:

Rural Tax Education:

Peak Wellness Center: (24-hour Goshen County Crisis Line 307-532-4091)

The Wyoming Behavioral Institute: (24-hour hotline 1-800-457-9321)

Other links/archived information:

NebGuide: Forage Production with Limited Irrigation (Nebraska Extension Publication)

Sept. 13 update: Irrigation resumes for farmers

Goshen Irrigation District website

Economic Impact Analysis of the Goshen/Gering Ft. Laramie Canal Failure

USDA Risk Management Agency determines that tunnel collapse is an insurable event

Crop Updates

Videos from time-lapse cameras on several field affected by the tunnel collapse, showing crop condition in the days and weeks following the loss of irrigation water. Cameras operated and videos edited by Nebraska Extension Cropping Systems Educator John Thomas.

The dry beans that received no irrigation this season due to the canal failure looked better than we expected all season probably due to a cooler summer, high humidity and some timely rains. The field was harvested Sept. 27 and the field yielded 18 bu/ac. Even though general bean yields are less this year, the field would probably have averaged 45-50 bu/ac if it had been irrigated normally.  Even though the field looked better than anyone expected they took a significant yield hit due to the canal failure. There were a good number of pods but most had greatly reduced numbers of beans per pod.

This corn froze in early October and went through several snows. This corn was harvested on Nov. 15. The final yield was 165 bushel per acre. Yield would have been better with a full season of irrigation but this was much better than expected!


Water was restored here for late season irrigation on Sept. 8-9. These beets went through several snows and hard freezes and were harvested Nov. 8. The final yield was 31.5 tons per acre with 16.5% sugar. Yield would have been better with a full season of irrigation but this was much better than expected!