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Loup Basin Reclamation District
P.O. Box 137 501 South RD
Farwell, NE 68838

History of Unit

The Farwell Unit area was acquired in 1803 as part of the Louisiana Purchase. In 1854, treaties were made with Indian tribes, Nebraska Territory was created, and settlement by cattlemen began. Admission of Nebraska to the Union in 1867 and construction of the railroads stimulated settlement of the area by hardy European immigrants. Nearly all of the land in the unit area was homesteaded by 1890.

As a result of drought and almost complete crop failures during 1891 and 1894, several irrigation projects were built along the Middle Loup River. More favorable precipitation in the late 1890’s and early 1900’s caused disuse and finally abandonment.
Recurrent drought conditions in the early 1930’s again aroused irrigation interest in the Middle Loup River area. Because of required high pump lifts or long diversion canals, no attempts were made to divert from the river and irrigate the uplands of the Farwell Unit area. Development and utilization of ground water for irrigation of these uplands was not feasible due to inadequate aquifers and excessive depths to water.
The Farwell Unit was authorized as a part of the Missouri River Basin Project by the Flood Control Acts of 1944 and 1946. This unit and the Sargent Irrigation Unit constitute the Loup Basin Reclamation District which was organized in 1950. The Farwell Irrigation District was organized in November, 1954. The Farwell Irrigation District contracted with the United States Government on March 23, 1957 to repay construction costs of the distribution system.
Construction began on the Farwell Unit with the ground-breaking ceremony for Sherman Dam on August 25, 1959.
The Unit Plan
The Sherman Feeder Canal, 19 miles in length, conveys the diverted water to Sherman Reservoir. Silt is removed in a settling basin a short distance below the headworks. A 2,000 foot long 11 ½ foot diameter tunnel, unique in this area, pierces the ridge between the Middle Loup River and Oak Creek Valleys. Under a contract with the United States, the Middle Loup Public Power and Irrigation District has constructed a turnout near the lower end of the settling basin and will receive silt-free water for its lower system.
Sherman Reservoir was created by constructing Sherman Dam across Oak Creek. Regulated releases for irrigation are made through a gated outlet to the Farwell Main Canal. No controlled flood storage space is provided; however, floods passing through the reservoir are substantially reduced by temporary storage in the surcharge pool. The capacity of the reservoir is large enough to allow space for 100 years accumulation of sediment estimated at 10,000 acre-feet.
In general, the canals serving the irrigable lands of the unit are located on divides between the larger streams. The Farwell Main and Lower Main Canals, 37.5 miles, serve lands located mainly between the North Loup River and Turkey Creek, The Farwell Central Canal, 18.5 miles, serves lands between Turkey and Oak Creeks and the Farwell South and Upper South Canals, 39.7 miles, provide service to lands between Oak and Deer Creeks. Lateral systems under each canal and pumping plants aid in distributing the water. Of the 254.6 miles of laterals there are 180 miles buried into pipeline.
The Deer Station Pumping Plant is the largest in the unit and lifts water 99.8 feet to associated laterals. There are 37 small pumping plants with lifts that range from 6 to 53 feet.