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An irrigation canal breach causes significant flooding in Goshen County

flood waters cover the Greenwald farm in Goshen County
Linda Meyer
Torrington Telegram Facebook page
Water fills livestock pens and the surrounding fields of Greenwald Farms after an irrigation canal was breached on Jul. 1. Gov. Mark Gordon activated the Wyoming National Guard to help with flood mitigation efforts, such as sandbagging. Despite the damage to parts of Lingle and Goshen County, there have been no reported fatalities.

The breach of an irrigation canal near Lingle on Friday, Jul. 1, led to the flooding of parts of the town and nearby farmland. The Pathfinder Irrigation District, which provides water for agriculture in Wyoming and western Nebraska, led local officials knocking on doors urging residents to evacuate.

“The irrigation ditch was breached on the northwest [side] of town,” said Nakisha Garner, Lingle’s Deputy Clerk/Treasurer. “There was a decent chunk taken out, like it took out part of the side of the canal and it was just draining out the side of it.”

Goshen County commissioners issued an emergency declaration and Gov. Mark Gordon activated the Wyoming National Guard, who sent a HH-60 Sikorsky Black Hawk helicopter, to mobilize to the area to help with efforts, such as sandbagging. While some of Lingle escaped the flooding, other areas were less fortunate. At least one business and multiple farms were affected.

“Our volunteer fire department and our chief of police were on scene for that day on Friday and they had brought in a bunch of dirt to make piles to help redirect, and so they were on scene for all of that,” Garner said.

Other agencies that responded included the Goshen County Sheriff's Office, the Goshen Hole Fire Department, Goshen County Emergency Management, and the Wyoming Highway Patrol, who redirected traffic from U.S. Highway 26 for a time after flood waters crossed the highway.

Crews with the Pathfinder Irrigation District in addition to local construction companies worked to repair the canal in the days after the breach. These efforts are ongoing. An investigation into the cause of the breach is underway.

Despite the damage, there have been no reports of any fatalities associated with the flooding.

The breach comes almost three years after another irrigation canal in Goshen County failed, causing major disruptions to local agriculture.

Hugh Cook is Wyoming Public Radio's Northeast Reporter, based in Gillette. A fourth-generation Northeast Wyoming native, Hugh joined Wyoming Public Media in October 2021 after studying and working abroad and in Washington, D.C. for the late Senator Mike Enzi.

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