Tunnel repairs complete, water possible by the end of the week

Courtesy/The Business farmer The collapsed area secured at the ceiling and around the walls, with a clear path to the end of the tunnel.

FORT LARAMIE – The Goshen Irrigation District announced Monday afternoon that contractors from SAK Construction and GID employees have “have succeeded repairing and fixing the collapsed tunnel.” 

Manager Rob Posten declared tunnel crews have seen the “light at the end of the tunnel.”

The tunnel collapsed on July 17. Dirt from the collapse caused water to back up and eventually breach the canal. There has been no water in the canal since the collapse. 

According to the release, SAK construction completed the excavation of the tunnel and finished removing dirt from inside the tunnel. 

“The wall supports and tunnel ceilings have been stabilized to a point of 700 feet within the tunnel,” the update said. “After the collapsed hole was repaired, grouted and the sinkhole dirt was cleared, the remaining length of the tunnel was debris free and infrastructure remains stable and intact.”

SAK contractors and irrigation district employees have been working around the clock on the repairs since July 19. 

“Everyone on this project has gone above and beyond to get us to this point,” Posten said. “From our irrigation district employees to the excavation and tunnel crews, everyone has put in beyond 100 percent to get our landowners water this year.” 

The exact date and hour the water will come back on hasn’t been determined, but it could come as early as the end of this week, the update said. 

“Contractors and irrigation district managers are hopeful to resume water service in the Fort Laramie Canal for water deliveries by the end of this week,” the update said. “Final dirt extraction, equipment removal and site cleanup is commencing to clear and make way for water deliveries in the tunnel. The water will be turned on slowly to ensure tunnel stability and to test and monitor the tunnel as water is released. Farmers and landowners are asked for their patience as the water will be released slower than typical, until the canal capacity has been reached. Delivery rates and quantities will be announced once the flows, stability and holding rate of the canal is determined. 

“The official time and days of water release and expected deliveries will be announced once determined.”

Official water delivery updates and notifications will be released on the GID’s Facebook page and website, www.goshenirrigation.com. 

Recovery
efforts for GID, farmers 

Despite a summer of mostly despair for farmers who rely on the Fort Laramie Canal, there have been a few small pieces of good luck in recent weeks. 

Last week, the United States Department of Agriculture announced that crops lost as a result of the collapse would be considered insurable - a measure that could save some small family farms. 

In addition to crop insurance payouts, the Natural Resources Conservation Service announced on Tuesday morning that it is currently accepting applications for its Environmental Quality Incentives Program from local producers affected by the collapse. 

The deadline for EQIP applications is today. Producers should contact the NRCS’ Torrington field office at (307) 532-1366 for information on the application process. 

The GID  announced a pair of charitable donations the both the district and to farmers affected by the collapse.

On Aug. 22, Wyrulec board member Clay Peterson presented the GID with a check for $15,000. Wyrulec donated $7,500 to the cause, and the charitable effort was matched by a $7,500 donation by CO Bank. 

On Tuesday, Ted Bentley, a trustee for the Art and Pat Damrow Trust, announced the trust will be making a $2.50 per acre donation to each affected landowner along the canal. This is to help curb a $5.00 per acre special assessment fee the farmers will encumber due to the tunnel repair efforts. In all, the donation will total $131,210. 

“Art and Pat would be proud to have helped farmers and landowners in this catastrophic situation,” Bentley said. 

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