Middle Loup crop production threatened

SARGENT - - The bid has been awarded and construction is slated to begin April 1, or as soon as the spring weather allows, on a project to rebuild the Sargent Diversion Dam. 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. The bid, which was submitted and accepted, was in the amount of $2, 150,297.88. The board was pleased that the bids were in the range of $500,000 less than had been estimated by the engineers. The scheduled substantial completion date is Sept. 15, 2011, with the total project final completion date of Oct. 15, 2011. The project will consist of a complete new structure on the south half of the Middle Loup River one mile south of Sargent. The new dam will be used to replace the one which was destroyed by the flood which occurred June 13, 2010, and will divert water into a canal to provide water to some 5,000 acres downstream. Water will again be delivered to users in 2011, via a temporary coffer dam as was done in 2010. Prior to the beginning of construction, the district will be proceeding with plans to reinforce the north half of the Sargent dam to make sure it is in good condition for the upcoming irrigation season. Following the collapse of the dam, the irrigation district made immediate application for funds from FEMA (Federal Emergency Manage-ment Agency) to aid in the cost of reconstruction. However, as of this time, Al Schmidt, Manager of Middle Loup Public Power and Irrigation District, indicates that FEMA has given no word as to whether or not they will be providing the 75 percent cost share that they had earlier indicated would probably be available. Although the district remains hopeful that FEMA will want to assist in the funding, recent correspondence with their Kansas City office indicates that they are questioning the project’s eligibility for federal funding. The board is working with Nebraska’s Senators and Representatives and other influential sources in an effort to help convince FEMA that the production of irrigated crops in the Middle Loup Valley is important to our local communities, our state, and the nation and should be supported with federal funding. In the meantime, the district will cover the construction cost with revenue bonds to be paid off by a special assessment to the patrons of the district. The Middle Loup Public Power and Irrigation District was founded in 1936, and is headquartered in Arcadia. For more information contact manager Al Schmidt.