GUERNSEY - The Platte County River that usually flows deep and lazy on the outskirts of Guernsey is just about non-existent. According to Guernsey Mayor Nick Paustain, the river is drained every year for the annual Guernsey silt run and brings water laced with salt for irrigation in Wyoming and Nebraska.
This practice has been done since 1959.
According to Elise Balin of the Star-Herald newspaper in Scotts Bluff, Nebraska, “After completion of the Guernsey dam in 1927, the Guernsey Reservoir began to provide irrigation water to the three downstream irrigation districts: Goshen, Gering-Ft Laramie and Pathfinder, consequently involving the Fort Laramie and interstate canals.
Within 30 years of the dam’s completion, 29,000 acre-feet (one-acre foot, equal to 326,000 gallons of water) of accumulated sediment occurred in the reservoir, reducing storage capacity from 73,180 acre-feet to 44,800 acre-feet, according to a report analysis prepared by Water Resources and Environmental Consultants, Lidstone & Anderson, for the Wyoming Water Development Commission in 1993.”
Paustain said that this year, the river bottom would be dry as maintenance was going to be performed on one of the large gates at the reservoir. One community member suggested a Platte River bottom hiking and scavenger excursion to find things lost during the tubing season.
Although the coming week is supposed to be unusually warm for this time of year, those who want to go tubing will have to carry their tubes, pour water on their heads and look forward to next year’s tubing season when the river will once again flow large and lazy.