GERING — Water is slowly being pumped through the Goshen/Gering-Fort Laramie Irrigation Canal following a tunnel collapse that kept the canal dry for six weeks.

According to Gering-Fort Laramie Irrigation District Manager Rick Preston, water has reached the end of the canal and crews are working to open laterals and gates to deliver the much-needed water to irrigators along the line. Preston said the hope is that all recipients would have water within the next couple of days. Delivery is running at 70% of normal because of the gradual release of water into the system.

“Everything so far is running smoothly,” Preston said. “We’ve just got to be careful with how aggressive we get with it. Right now, we’re slowly pumping water through, making sure that the repairs that have been made are going to hold up.”

A portion of a 2,200-foot long tunnel along the 130-mile canal route collapsed July 17, halting the flow of water to more than 107,000 acres of crops. Crews worked to rebuild a section of the canal that washed away into neighboring farmland and to remove sand and debris from the collapsed tunnel, the second of three tunnels along the route. Inside the tunnel, crews shored up the interior walls and made repairs to two major holes in the roof of the tunnel to enable water to flow again this season. A determination will have to be made as to the future of the collapsed tunnel as well as the other two.

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Mark McCarthy is a reporter with the Star-Herald. He can be reached at 308-632-9049 or via email at

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