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Settlement in Rooks and Osborne Counties began in 1869 and by 1880 their population was more than 20,000. Favorable precipitation in the 1880's resulted in good crop yields but the following years were interspersed with years of extreme drought. Prolonged droughts in the 1930's emphasized the need for a program to stabilize agriculture by storing destructive flood waters for irrigation.
The Bureau of Reclamation initiated investigations in the area in 1939 and the Webster Unit was authorized as a part of the Missouri River Basin Project by the Flood Control Acts of 1944 and 1946. Webster Dam construction began in November 1952. The plan for irrigation was presented in a definite plan report which was approved in February 1957. Construction started on the Woodston Diversion Dam and the Osborne Canal in July 1957.
Organization of Webster Irrigation District No. 4 was completed in February 1957. A repayment contract with the United States was signed by the District in April 1957.
For more information on Webster Dam, click here.
Information from Roger Hrabe, Rooks County Economic Development Director
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