Irrigation season begins amid hot temperatures

Irrigation season begins amid hot temperatures
Canal in western Nebraska carrying water to irrigators. RRN/Guzman
June 10th, 2021 | Chabella Guzman

Irrigation season will begin on Tuesday, June 15, for the Farmers Irrigation District and the Goshen Irrigation District. 

“Unless significant rains occur (irrigators should), be ready to take the water,” said Kevin Adams, general manager at Farmers Irrigation. “We can’t afford to waste any of our supply due to our supply being less than normal.”

Newly placed steel sheets in the Fort Laramie Canal tunnel will hopefully allow more water to be moved to farmers this year. The canal delivers water to Goshen Irrigation and Gering-Ft. Laramie Irrigation Districts. Last year the tunnel ran at 1200 cfs (cubic square foot per acre), and this year they are hoping for more.

“It won’t take long to figure out how much the tunnel will run,” said Rob Posten, manager for Goshen Irrigation District. “I’m positive they’ll run over 1300 (cfs), I’m hoping for 1350 (cfs), but we didn’t have a chance to test it with the first run. We didn’t want to waste water.”

Irrigators will be asked to save as much water as possible by the districts since most agree the Bureau of Reclamation will allocate water this year.

The Pathfinder Irrigation District has not set a date yet for irrigation deliveries, but Dennis Strauch, general manager for the District, said it would likely be sooner than later. 

Along with supplying water to farmers with the first run, Pathfinder also supplies inland lakes Alice, Winters Creek, and Minatare with water for the summer. 

“We were having trouble filling and getting the lakes up to operating levels. When we shut our deliveries off for the first run, we ran a few days more into the lakes to get them up to operating levels,” Strauch said.

Pathfinder will likely bring Lake Alice up a bit more. Still, Lake Minatare won’t likely see any more water since it’s hard with capacity issues to deliver more water once irrigation begins.  

The National Weather Service in Cheyenne, Wyo. forecasts temperatures for June 14 – 16, at 100 plus degrees, with little rain in sight for the Panhandle and eastern Wyoming. 

According to the U.S Drought Monitor for the week ending June 8. In Nebraska, moderate drought and abnormally dry conditions spread over the northeast to central portions of the state, with some severe drought being introduced in the far northern counties. Degradation took place in Wyoming, where extreme drought was introduced in the northeast, and moderate and severe drought expanded in the central and southwest portions of the state, with just a small pocket improved in the southwest.

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