GERING – The 2021 Yonts Water Conference will provide an advance look at prospects for the upcoming irrigation season for the North Platte Valley of western Nebraska and eastern Wyoming.
The Yonts Conference returns to an in-person format April 9 from 9 a.m. – 1 p.m. MDT at the Gering Civic Center. Lunch will be included. There is no charge to attend, but space is limited and registration is needed by April 5. To register online, go to https://go.unl.edu/yonts . To register by phone, call 308-632-1230.
More information is available at the Panhandle Research and Extension Center webpage, https://panhandle.unl.edu.
The conference is named in honor of the late Dean Yonts, UNL Irrigation Specialist who helped start the North Platte Valley Water Policy Conference. After a hiatus of some years following Yonts’ death, the newly named conference returned in 2020 in virtual format.
This event will follow current Nebraska Extension event policy and Panhandle Public Health District guidelines, including masks and social distancing. The guidelines will be posted at the conference site.
U.S. Bureau of Reclamation staff from the North Platte Project office in Mills, Wyoming, will present their 2021 water supply forecast for the project, which supplies irrigation water to more than 300,000 acres in Nebraska and Wyoming. The forecast is based on water carried over from 2020 in the North Platte storage reservoirs as well as this spring’s winter snowmelt in Colorado and Wyoming.
Many irrigators are still recovering from the disastrous 2019 water disruption caused by the Goshen-Gering/Fort Laramie Tunnel collapse, which temporarily shut down the supply canal for the two irrigation districts. More than 100,000 acres of crops in Nebraska were without water for most of the growing season. A growers’ panel will discuss how they have coped with the tunnel collapse. An engineer for the irrigation districts will provide an update on repair efforts.
Managing crops in the coming season will be the topic of a panel discussion by Nebraska Extension specialists and educators.
The Yonts Water Conference is organized by the North Platte River Water for Agriculture Committee, made up of representatives from Extension, local irrigation districts, the North Platte Natural Resources District, agricultural producers, area businesses, and wildlife groups. The committee’s work, including the conference, is supported by an Agriculture and Food Research Initiative (AFRI) Water for Agriculture grant.
The list of topics and presenters:
2021 Water Outlook and Drought Monitor Update – U.S. Bureau of Reclamation
Drought Monitor Update – Martha Shulski, Nebraska State Climatologist
Update on Repairs of Goshen-Gering/Fort Laramie Tunnel – Brad Anderson, Anderson Consulting Engineers Inc.