Nebraska Governor Pete Ricketts was in Scottsbluff on Jan. 15, to present his State of the State Address. Almost six months to the day of the Ft. Laramie Canal failure on July 17, in Wyo.
The canal feeds water to both Nebraska and Wyoming irrigators.
In the address, Ricketts announced proposed funding of $3.8 million for emergency repairs to reimburse the Gering Ft. Laramie Irrigation District.
“The cost to do the emergency repairs on that tunnel and repairs to another tunnel as part of that system is about 3.8 million, and I have allocated that in my budget recommendation to reimburse the irrigation district for those emergency repairs,” Ricketts said.
The loss of water from July 17 to Aug. 28, cost producers much of their crops if not their entire crop.
Ricketts did tour the collapse in the summer and has held several meetings with senators and district personnel.
“This is for the temporary fix,” said Nebraska Senator John Stinner from the 48th District. “We’re also going to wait on the permanent fix and see what that number looks like, and hopefully, we can get the Bureau of Reclamation to step up and provide funding.”
The allocation of the funds is the first step in the process, and Stinner said the legislators he’s spoken to agree this is something the state should fund.
“This is a financial benefit for all the patrons in the Gering Ft.-Laramie Irrigation District,” said Rick Preston, general manager, Gering-Ft Laramie Irrigation District.
The $3.8 million will cover about 33 percent of the $11 million for the temporary fix repairs.
The district is continuing to look for money in the form of grants.
The money the governor has appropriated for the canal fix will be released in April with the signing of the budget. Unless it’s not part of an emergency clause, in which case it could be as late as September before the district receives the money.