Both the Goshen and Gering-Ft. Laramie Irrigation Districts held public meetings today to address questions on the Ft. Laramie canal and the remaining irrigation season.
Rick Preston, District Manager of Gering-Ft. Laramie Irrigation District, says he understands the frustration of the growers.
Preston says the fix for the tunnel to rib it and get water flowing in is underway. That fix is estimated to take about three weeks, and a ballpark estimate of $3 million, but it is still a gamble.
An audience member at the Scottsbluff meeting inquired about getting help from the National Guard now that a State of Emergency had been declared in Wyoming- and one will likely follow in Nebraska.
Bryan Tuma, the Assistant Director of the Nebraska Emergency Management Agency, says our National Guard doesn’t have the equipment or training to deal with the tunnel collapse. He adds the declaration will help in other ways.
Tuma says the canal could be declared a federal disaster, but there would need to be damage assessments, thresholds met based on population and other requirements such as rebuilding infrastructures.
Crop insurance was another question brought up at the meeting, and Vanessa Reishus with Farm Credit Services of America explained on how losses might be covered.
Reishus says if the tunnel collapse was something other than environmental, the acres would be taken off the policy and become uninsurable.