BOR To Provide $2.3-M Loan For Gering-Ft Laramie Tunnel Repairs

1 view

GERING, Neb. (AP) – The federal Bureau of Reclamation has included $2.3-million dollars in its 2020 spending plan for a loan to help fund repairs on the Gering-Fort Laramie irrigation canal’s tunnel #3, which partially collapsed last summer.

The loan will be in addition to a $3.8 million grant that Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts has said the state will provide to the Gering-Fort Laramie Irrigation District. Estimated permanent repair costs are $16-million.

The BOR had earlier indicated that it couldn’t provide any funding because of precedent, so the announcement of the money came as a pleasant surprise to the two irrigation districts involved – the Gering-Fort Laramie and the Goshen district in Wyoming.

Nebraska Republican U-S Senator Deb Fischer, a Cherry County rancher and Senate Ag Committee member, worked with her staff and the BOR to find a way to move forward and get around the precedent argument.

Fischer calls the canal “critical to Nebraska agriculture, supplying surface water to approximately 55,000 acres of cropland including corn, sugarbeets, and dry edible beans.”

She says the funding “will help western Nebraska farmers and families who feed the world to recover from the effects of this major disruption to irrigation.”

Last summer’s Tunnel 3 collapse also damaged the canal’s 2 other tunnels and caused a significant breach of the canal well. The collapse left more than 150 square miles of cropland without water at the peak of summer before temporary repairs got the water flowing again by the end of August.