Tag Archives: ft. laramie canal

A permeation grouting repair of the Ft. Laramie Canal tunnels one and two will bring the total repair cost to about $15 million. 

A unanimous vote from the Gering Ft. Laramie Irrigation District on Thursday, Nov. 21, and a majority vote from the Goshen Irrigation District, later that day, chose the grouting repair as the final fix for the canal tunnels.

“The board (GFLID) kept in mind when this all happened, this (permeation grouting) was a very strong recommendation by the Bureau of Reclamation,” said Rick Preston, district manager for the Gering Ft. Laramie Irrigation District. 

The groups also looked at digging out the canal, but the estimations ran about $14 million and more, which would have been more than $20 million, with the added temporary fix of $6 million for tunnel two.

The $6 million in temporary repairs to tunnel two and $1.9 million to tunnel one were mandatory, to get water to producers this year. 

“The Bureau (of Reclamation) made it clear, regardless of what happens, if we did not do the temporary fix. We would not have water run in 2020,”  Preston said.

Tunnel two’s final fix with grouting will be an additional $3 million, and tunnel one will have a final grouting fix of an additional $4 million.

The permanent fix will most likely take more than a year to complete. SAK Construction, which began the canal fixes after the collapse on July 17, 2019, will complete the repair work to stabilize the tunnel with additional ribbing supports and void grouting.

Goshen Irrigation District will submit the grouting proposal to the Bureau of Reclamation, and they will have to give their approval before the districts can accept bids from a permeation grouting company.

Preston said the districts are now looking to get grant money for the repairs.

“We’re just now addressing grants on the federal level, but we’re also sending letters to our senators and representatives asking for support and help in finding monies for this project,” Preston said. 

Monies the districts receive in grants will go towards the entire project fix. If they don’t get grants, loans would need to be taken out by each district separately and paid back.

“We have to have work continue, we have to find financial backing to do it. We have no interest in a loan as the farmer/producer can’t afford the increase to pay on these, so we are going for grants,” he said. 

The irrigation districts and irrigators have faced a long road since the canal collapsed in July. The collapse left 110,000 acres of cropland in Nebraska and Wyoming without water in an already challenging crop season.

The Goshen Irrigation District (GID) received a large donation of $131,210 on Tuesday, Nov. 5, from the Art & Pat Damrow Trust in Torrington Wyo. 

The donation will help in offsetting the irrigation assessment fees for the GID landowners. 

“We had to raise the assessments $5 per acre, and this gift pays half of that so of the additional $5 assessment this covers $2.50 of that for the upcoming tax season. So, this is a huge benefit to the landowners and irrigators,” said Shawn Booth, secretary-treasurer of the GID board.

The Damrow board of trustees decided on the donation to the GID, since Art Damrow was involved in production agriculture in the area as a young man, and well into his 100s.

“He started out in the potato industry, and he did pretty well, and like everything in commodities, it crashed. Art spent his whole like finding things that worked in the market and was involved in every aspect of agriculture from potatoes to corn and livestock,” said Hugh Hegeman, a member of the board of trustees. 

Each landowner has been affected differently by the collapse of the Ft. Laramie Canal, which occurred on July 17, 2019. 

Many of the producers in Goshen County, Wyo. grow alfalfa, corn, sugar beets, and dry edible beans. While the alfalfa producers were able to get a couple of cuttings before the collapse, the other crops were not so fortunate. 

“The unfortunate thing was the time of the year when everyone had put in their inputs or about 90 percent invested in the crop. All they needed was water, and it was water we didn’t have for about six weeks,” said Ted Bentley, trustee for the Damrow Trust.

The check was presented at the Goshen Irrigation District Board meeting.

The Gering Ft. Laramie Irrigation District Board will also meet this week, and then the two boards will meet to decide on the repair of the canal, and the way to move forward for next year’s irrigation season.