Irrigation canal collapse

Surface-water irrigators in the North Platte River Valley south of the river in western Nebraska and eastern Wyoming lost their water supply for approximately six weeks during the 2019 growing season due to a partially collapsed tunnel and washout in the Gering-Fort Laramie and Goshen irrigation canal that occurred July 17. The water disruption affected approximately 107,000 acres of crops, or about 35% of the total acres irrigated by surface water in the North Platte River Valley in both states. Approximately 55,000 acres were affected in Nebraska and 52,000 acres in Wyoming.

Canal System

Immediately after learning of the collapse, Nebraska Extension team members in the Panhandle sprang into action compiling resources on yield loss and soil moisture predictions, disaster resources, financial assistance, rural tax education and much more. Extension also facilitated public meetings for stakeholders to hear from irrigation officials about the repair efforts.

After temporary repairs, water was returned to the canal system on Aug. 28, 2019, and service to irrigators was restored in the days and weeks that followed. Both irrigation districts are working on long-term solutions and funding for a permanent fix.