TORRINGTON – Thanksgiving and Christmas have arrived early for Wyoming producers impacted by the July tunnel collapse on the Goshen/Gering Fort Laramie Irrigation Canal. A $131,210 donation will cover half of the additional $5 per acre assessment for the first year. The new charge has been levied on Wyoming’s Goshen Irrigation District producers to help cover repair costs of an estimated $14-$15 million.
The canal tunnel south of Fort Laramie, Wyoming, collapsed due to an exceptionally wet spring and summer that weakened the soil structure of the roof of the tunnel, causing the collapse. The canal, completed in the early 1900s, serves approximately 107,000 acres, divided about half in each state.
GID board members and personnel have been exploring costs of various repair options, including removing the roof of the tunnel, and updating the concrete canal.
“We feel this is a good use for the Art and Pat Damrow Trust money,” said retired 1st State Bank President Ted Bentley during the presentation at the GID office in Torrington on Nov. 5. Other Trustees are Hugh Hageman, who also participated in the presentation, and his brother, Dewey, who is married to Damrow’s great-niece, DeeDee, daughter of Art’s nephew, Bruce.
“We’re sure Art and Pat would approve, and we might do this again in the future.
“We live in a desert, and without water it is very difficult,” Bentley said. “I’m a landowner, and I feel the pain of the producers and their financial issues. We can only hope that next year they have a full supply of water.
“Art was in agriculture production for over 100 years,” Hageman added. “He’d want the money to go to people who work hard. He would find things that would work in the market, including potatoes, corn and livestock. He was involved in just about everything that would grow in Goshen County.”
“Art passed away at 106. He had successes and failures,” Bentley added. “We’re sure that he and his wife, Pat, who passed away at 102, would want the money to go to people who work hard – young or old. That’s why we feel this is a good choice for the use of these funds.”
Bentley said he and the Hagemans met in August shortly after the GID board announced the additional $5 assessment. They decided to fund $2.50 per acre to assist during this first year, and will probably revisit the issue next year.
While Wyoming producers have had great assistance and cooperation from State and Federal government agencies, Nebraska producers are coping with a different set of rules and regulations, and are still searching for a way to pay their share of repair costs.
As for the current situation, Bentley said he has been told that the GID board, as well as the G/FL board, are nearing a final decision on the future of the tunnel/canal project.