Lingle community impacted by flood
The town of Lingle and surrounding areas was impacted by a break in Pathfinder Canal on July 1. The canal serves Lingle, Hill and Pathfinder Irrigation Districts (PID). Some residents of Lingle had no impact to their homes or businesses, while others reported significant property damage and loss.
Secretary of State Edward Buchanan was in Lingle at the time of the breach and noted damage to several properties.
“The damage was primarily to crops, a pivot, feedlots, a business and several homes and farms which sustained flooding and damage,” said Buchanan. “Due to the quick actions of the emergency management team in Goshen County and from Cheyenne, the water was diverted through town and around structures – the town itself was really fortunate not to sustain too much damage, but there were a couple of residences that sustained damage and people lost personal belongings.”
“Overall, it could have been much worse depending on where the break occurred,” he added.
He noted sandbags were being filled in an attempt to fill the breach, and dump trucks were bringing in fill dirt to stop the water.
“The helicopter was ready to put larger containers full of sandbags in the breach, but the water was stopped before they were needed,” he said.
Several county and state emergency agencies, community members, independent contractors, Wyoming representatives and the National Guard assisted with flood protection and cleanup efforts.
“We had such an amazing response, from emergency services, to local community members, to churches – everyone was here helping and was involved,” shared Wyoming Sen. Cheri Steinmetz. “It was really amazing.”
The PID announced on July 7 the repair work on the main canal by Lingle had been completed enough to begin bringing water back down to users in Nebraska and Wyoming. PID Manager Rick Miller shared the cause of the break is unknown, but repairs are done and the canal is back to working at full capacity.
“We had to remove all of the mud to get down to the hardpan layer and then we hauled in a clay-type dirt mix to the compaction the engineers require us to use,” explained Miller.
“At this point, we’ve repaired it back to 100 percent, so it’s fixed,” he added. “I was very appreciative of the employees of PID and the community to help us get this fixed as quickly as possible and to get water back to the farmers and ranchers in Wyoming and Nebraska.”
In the future, PID plans to continue monitoring for signs indicating a weakening canal.
Wyoming water bills
In 2021, the Select Water Committee passed two water bills to assist in times of need. Steinmetz noted the funds from these two bills are unlikely to be utilized for the PID breach; however, bill HB0150 has the potential to be useful.
“The bill provides an annual appropriations of $10 million from the legislative stabilization reserve account which may be allocated by the governor for public welfare emergencies,” the bill reads.
“The bottom line is, when the state is impacted by an emergency, there is no way to get immediate funding for the actual emergency,” she said. “There is some access to funds through U.S. Department of Homeland Security and emergency management, but there are many things it doesn’t cover.”
“When these events happen, it’s important to be able to have access to relief and to be able to respond to the impacted area,” she explained.
This funding may be used in addition to payments made by crop and property insurance agencies, but Buchanan shared the state will have limited ability to reimburse impacted landowners.
“I think we need to still assess what liability PID has to the land and property owners here,” said Steinmetz. “Right now, my job will be getting the dialogue going with PID. When we get in these types of emergencies, there’re always really complex issues and unforeseen circumstances we can’t anticipate.”
“Water remains one of our most important issues in the state of Wyoming,” Steinmetz shared in a recent statement. “Wyoming water is more valuable than gold, and we must act accordingly.”
Brittany Gunn is the editor of the Wyoming Livestock Roundup. Send comments on this article to firstname.lastname@example.org.