A permanent solution for water delivery by way of the irrigation canal that serves 100,000 acres for producers in Goshen County, Wyoming, and Nebraska growers south of the North Platte River, will be a step closer following a study of a potential solution to open the current #2 Tunnel, which was completed in 1917.
Rachelle Anderson, engineer on the project, hopes to complete the study by September 2021. It will include aerial photos of 2,000 acres, elevation data, and drilling test holes to determine the feasibility of soil conditions along the route near the tunnel, southeast of Fort Laramie, Wyoming.
“The information will help determine if it’s feasible to open the tunnel,” Anderson said. If it is, and is determined to be cost effective, an environmental assessment will be done.
Anderson hopes to have the soils study completed by Sept. 1, 2021. At that point, an environmental study would be initiated, and hopefully completed within a year.
“But that depends on the type of studies required,” Anderson cautioned.
Upon completion of the environmental study, a design would have to be determined, including slope design, followed by excavation.
“Realistically, it could be three to four years before a canal would be completed,” Anderson said.
The feasibility study has a price tag of $100,000 to $120,000. It includes drone flights to obtain photos of the area, a drilling rig to obtain soil samples, special fabrics to mark territory for the flights over the area.
The dirt would have to be removed from the tunnel to a determined area and, agreements will need to be made with landowners of that property.
Bob Taylor of Benchmark of Torrington has the contract for surveying the project.
The possibility of replacing the #2 Tunnel on the Gering/Fort Laramie Irrigation Canal arose in 2019, when part of the roof of the tunnel collapsed, cutting short the irrigation season for producers in Goshen County, Wyoming, and in Nebraska, from the stateline to near Scotts Bluff National Monument.