Governor Pete Ricketts has issued an emergency declaration following the collapse of a major tunnel that transports water from Whalen Dam in Wyoming to Scotts Bluff County.  Disruption of the water supply, which is vital for irrigation, is having an adverse impact on ag producers in the Nebraska Panhandle.

“Our farmers in Western Nebraska have lost access to water at a critical time in the growing season,” said Governor Ricketts.  “Since the canal failure, I have been in frequent communication with Wyoming Governor Gordon, Senator Erdman, and Senator Stinner about the situation both personally and through my staff and Director of Natural Resources.  Today, I’ve issued a disaster declaration in response to this significant hardship as we work together to get our farmers and ranchers the help they need.”

On Thursday, the Governor will visit the Scottsbluff area to consult with local officials.  The emergency declaration took effect Wednesday and allows resources to flow into the affected region.

The collapsed irrigation tunnel—located along the Fort Laramie Canal southwest of Fort Laramie, Wyoming—normally services around 55,000 acres in Nebraska.  Government officials, engineers, and natural resources managers are working to restore the supply of water.