TORRINGTON – The Goshen Irrigation District has found funding to pay for the temporary repairs to the Fort Laramie-Gering Irrigation Canal that collapsed in July and halted irrigation to more than 100,000 acres of farmland in Nebraska and Wyoming, and is in the process of deciding how to permanently fix the tunnel.
The GID announced last week that it was the recipient of a $4 million Clean Water State Revolving Fund loan from the Wyoming State Land and Investment Board, which is a low-interest 30-year loan with the possibility of principal forgiveness. According to the release from the GID, up to 75 percent of the balance could be forgiven.
In a press release, Gov. Mark Gordon praised the SLIB board for voting unanimously to help the people of Goshen County.
“There’s nothing more important in Wyoming than our water,” Governor Gordon said. “All hands continue to be on deck to help GID as they work to make cost-conscious decisions for the long haul. I want to thank the capable staff at the Office of State Lands and Investments who took the initiative to utilize the CWSRF as one part of a suite of solutions that will need to be available. This is how we get things done in Wyoming – through good relationships between GID, the Governor’s office, the Bureau of Reclamation and local decision makers.”
According to the Environmental Protection Agency, the CWSRF is a “federal-state partnership that provides communities a permanent, independent source of low-cost financing for a wide range of water quality infrastructure products.”
The CWSRF loan, paired with a $4 million, long-term low interest loan from the United States Bureau of Reclamation, will cover the temporary repairs made to the collapsed tunnel – which involved placing heavy steel rib pieces every four feet throughout the tunnel while pumping grout into any voids above the tunnel. The temporary repairs were completed in late August and the water was turned back on Aug. 29. The repairs enabled local farmers to get a few weeks of irrigation toward the end of the season before the water was shut off Oct. 3.
According to a statement from the GID, the district doesn’t plan to borrow the full amount – just enough to cover the emergency repairs.
“While both loans are out there the full amount won’t be borrowed – just whatever the end costs end up being,” the statement said.
The Bureau of Reclamation is currently conducting a study to determine the proper way to permanently fix the tunnel. According to the statement, there are multiple options on the table, and the GID will hold a stakeholder’s meeting when the proper method is determined. The temporary fix will be in place until the permanent fix is implemented.
“They are working and looking at the options and once decided, the funding will have to be sought and obtained as well,” the statement said. “In the next few weeks a plan will be made and then we will have a better timeline.”