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Irrigation districts lose sleeving option of collapsed tunnel | KRVN Radio

Irrigation districts lose sleeving option of collapsed tunnel

Irrigation districts lose sleeving option of collapsed tunnel
Fields flooded west of Lingle, Wyo. after Ft. Laramie Canal wall washed out on July 17. KNEB/RRN/Guzman

It was absolutely heart-breaking, my stomach just fell to the ground,

- Rick Preston, district manager of Gering Ft-Laramie Irrigation District

The Goshen and Gering-Ft Laramie Irrigation Districts have lost the immediate option of sleeving the canal.

On Monday, Rick Preston, district manager of Gering Ft-Laramie, received a call from the civil engineer working on the #2 tunnel collapse on the Ft. Laramie canal. The news was not good. The sleeving solution the districts had decided on over the weekend, wouldn’t work.  The pipe just wouldn’t be big enough to carry the necessary water for irrigation.

“It was absolutely heart-breaking, my stomach just fell to the ground,” he said. “I had been waiting on those numbers for two days, and when they finally came, it was just devastating.” 

The Goshen and Gering-Ft. Laramie districts met again Tuesday, July 23, with the engineers to work on a solution. The group came up with a proposed temporary fix to carry the irrigators through the season.

“That is to go in and reinforce the existing tunnel with some type of shoring. Get the debris out as best they can and put water in and at least try to get water to the landowners temporarily,” Preston said. 

The fix won’t allow for the amount of water the irrigators usually have, but it would allow for enough to finish the season. 

At this point, they have no idea what’s in the tunnel. If everything goes well, the shoring will allow the engineers to work safely in the tunnel, Preston said. 

“He’s (engineer) thinking in 20 days they can walk away from it and have water running for the season,” he said. 

It’s all a gamble right now, and there is no specific cost on the project.

If the temporary fix works, the engineers would then go in after the irrigation season and do all the necessary measurements to determine the pipe size to go back in and sleeve the tunnel. 

The tunnel collapse is affecting 104,000 acres of cropland in Nebraska and Wyoming.

The Gering-Ft Laramie Irrigation District will hold a public meeting Wednesday, July 24, at 10 a.m., at the Panhandle Research and Extension Center auditorium in Scottsbluff.

The Goshen Irrigation District will also hold a meeting July 24, at 2 p.m., at the Eastern Wyoming College auditorium in Torrington, Wyo.

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