TORRINGTON, Wyo. July 24, 2019–Hundreds of people filled the Eastern Wyoming College auditorium for a public meeting that was held at 2 pm on Wednesday, concerning the collapse of the Ft. Laramie tunnel and canal. Even though the auditorium was filled with mixed emotions including fear and sadness, people had positive demeanors. Everyone remains optimistic. A man led a prayer for farmers, families, workers, and representatives.
A company out of Houston has been hired and is in the process of building pipe for the replacement of the collapsed tunnel. GID Commissioners Secretary/Treasurer, Shawn Booth, explained that once the pipe is completed, they will haul it to Goshen County to begin the installation. Members of the GID Board are trying to be optimistic in hoping that there is a time table of the end of August for irrigators to see a water supply again.
The original tunnel was built back in 1917 and the owner of the title is the Bureau of Reclamation. Goshen Irrigation District is responsible for the operation and maintenance of the tunnel. It is going to take a collaborative effort of community members, local and state boards, legislative representatives, state officials, state funding, and even possible national funding to find a permanent fix.
Goshen Irrigation District has been working tirelessly to find solutions for our farmers. GID Manager, Rob Posten, has been working diligently to get the problem fixed. Many community members and representatives statewide have been doing their part to find help and assistance as well as donating time, labor, equipment, and money. Lawyers, engineers, and bankers have been in communication with the board about many different options. Currently, there is a plan for a temporary solution to get farmers and ranchers their water supply. The approximate cost to temporarily fix the tunnel and canal is around four million dollars. They are seeking solutions for a permanent fix as well, which is estimated around ten million dollars or more.
While working on the catastrophe, GID Commissioners president, Bob Coxbill, said, “We continually are asking is this the best for the farmers or not?”
A rough estimate of the economic loss is half a billion dollars. The board is trying to not only look at dollars and numbers, but also consider the fact that these are people, farmers, and families dealing with this disaster.
Coxbill also said, “This is their livelihood.”
Farmer, Cole Coxbill, announced that there is an account set up at First State Bank for people to donate to, if they wish. The idea of the account is similar to a GoFundMe account, but this is a better option because one hundred percent of the funds will go to the farmers in need. Kyle Borger with Goshen Help also mentioned that he can provide assistance with their food pantry and the Salvation Army.