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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

THE BASICS:

  • 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.
  • A tunnel structure used to convey water for the Goshen Irrigation District (Wyoming) and the Gering-Ft Laramie Irrigation District (Nebraska). The tunnel was completed in 1917 as a part of the North Platte Project built by the Bureau of Reclamation.  The tunnel is 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.

Resources:

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)

Websites:

Family Stress: https://child.unl.edu/family-stress-0

Nebraska Community Action Agencies: https://canhelp.org/get-help/

Disaster Resources (Nebraska Flood): https://child.unl.edu/disaster

CDC Disaster: https://emergency.cdc.gov/coping/index.asp

Financial Assistance: https://flood.unl.edu/family-financial

Rural Tax Education: https://unl.app.box.com/s/baszl98f3kks5x3fp7p1a2y5hb9y0mp1

Peak Wellness Center: https://www.peakwellnesscenter.org (24-hour Goshen County Crisis Line 307-532-4091)

The Wyoming Behavioral Institute: https://wbihelp.com/ (24-hour hotline 1-800-457-9321)

Fund-Raisers

In Wyoming, a donation account has been established at First State Bank to support the repair efforts in response to the irrigation canal collapse. 100 percent of the donations will be allocated to the Goshen Irrigation District to support their work in repairing the tunnel and the canal damage. Donations can be sent to: First State Bank, PO BOX 1098, Torrington WY 82240. Checks should be made out to:Goshen Irrigation District Donation Account.

In Nebraska, a website has been established by Platte Valley Bank and the Oregon Trail Foundation as a relief fund for farmers impacted by the tunnel collapse. All funds will go towards the effort to restore water and support local affected Ag families. Clicking the donate button will take the donor to the Oregon Trail Community Foundation website to make a secure donation.

Other links/archived information:

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

Is silage an option for corn impacted by canal breach?

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 received approximately 3 inches of rain since the canal failure in July. The corn was irrigated once before the canal failure and irrigation has resumed as of Sept. 10-11. This late season irrigation will help mature the corn and recharge the soil profile with water.

 

These sugarbeets received approximately 3 inches of rain since the canal failure in July. They were irrigated once before the canal failure and irrigation has resumed as of Sept. 8-9. This late season irrigation will add tonnage especially if we have an extended fall.