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New Sargent Dam completed

September 5, 2012

Photo by David Merrill

Many people, including a large host of farmers and land owners, benefit from the Middle Loup River, and from being able to access the water. Last week, many of those who benefit from its use gathered for a dedication for the new Sargent Diversion Dam.
The dam has been more than two years in the works. The new dam replaces the one which was destroyed by a flood which occurred June 13, 2010, and will divert water into a canal to provide water to some 5,000 acres downstream.
Perrett Construction of Valentine, was awarded the contract as the low bidder on the Sargent Diversion Dam at the regular meeting of the board of directors of the Middle Loup Public Power and Irrigation District in Arcadia Feb. 7, 2011. The bid, which was submitted and accepted, was in the amount of $2,150,297.88.
“I am amazed, as I look back, at the way everyone has pulled together to not only construct a wonderful new water diversion facility but also to meet the water delivery needs of our water users every step of the way,” said Rolen Sell of Arcadia, who addressed the crowd on behalf of the Board of Directors of the Middle Loup Public Power & Irrigation District.
After the previous dam was destroyed by flood waters, MLPPID manager Al Schmidt formulated alternatives to make sure the 2010 crops were not left without adequate water. A temporary rock dam was built across the south channel of the river to serve as a diversion facility. Al had help on that project from other district employees and Roger Frahm of North Loup.
“Perhaps a bit crude, but built with common sense and a determination to deliver water for at least one irrigation season, it worked extremely well,” said Sell.
The temporary rock dam had to get the crops not only through 2010, but through the summer of 2011 as well.
Sell says the project was also accomplished through the cooperation of the NRD, NEMA, FEMA, our congressional delegation, and Senator Johanns and Senator Nelsons offices.
“Without them (Senators) stepping up to the plate and helping with funding, our project would have been extremely difficult - if not impossible,” said Sell.
Sell also commended Olsson Associates, who provided the engineering for the new structure.
“They, along with our contractor Perrot Construction, had to overcome several challenges provided by the current and the shifting sands of the Middle Loup River,” Sell explained. “They completed a new structure which we can all be proud of and which should serve the farmers of the Middle Loup Valley for many years to come.
“This summer... indeed this day... reminds us of just how terribly important irrigation water is to this area of the state and nation,” he continued. “It also reminds us of how truly blessed we are to live in the Middle Loup River Valley where, so far, the water has continued to flow, even in the midst of a record-setting drought. We owe it to not only our producers today, but to the coming generations of producers to do the best job of managing this precious resource that we possibly can. This new Sargent Diversion Dam is going to allow us to do just that.”
The Middle Loup Public Power and Irrigation District was founded in 1936, and is headquartered in Arcadia. For more information contact manager Al Schmidt.

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