Summer Internship

Summer Internship

The following post was written by Kyle Gaston, one of two CNPPID summer interns working at Lake McConaughy this summer. Kyle is an environmental science major at Doane College.

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Photos by Kyle Gaston

This summer has been quite the learning experience for me having never done work with birds before. I have learned a lot and had some good and some not so good experiences this summer. Locating birds, nests, and chicks took some time but the more I worked the easier it got. The job also got more enjoyable once I gained the confidence to do it. This job wasn’t all enjoyable though just like any other job. My first day working in one of the tern enclosures, I learn quickly to not look up because those terns seem to have extremely good aim and will leave your shirt, hat, and anything else you are wearing with white stains.

On a better note, there are some fun and enjoyable parts as well. The people I work with are almost always in good humor. We always seem to be making jokes and never allow people to forget some embarrassing events such as being stuck on the beach, even though we all have been stuck at some point. Overall, working for Central has been a fun and great experience for me even if those terns leave stains all over my clothes, and I would be happy to return and work again next summer.

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Photo by Kyle Gaston

Fourth of July

Fourth of July

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Fourth of July is a holiday many spend celebrating at the lake. This year, Johnson Lake events are being held on Saturday, July 5th. The day will begin with the annual boat parade 10:00 a.m. at LakeShore Marina boat docks. Sign up at LakeShore Marina C-Store from 8:00 am to 10:00 am. Immediately following the boat parade prizes will be given out.

There will also be a dock decorating contest on July 5th. Sign-up at LakeShore Marina from 8 a.m. – 12 p.m. Judging will take place in the afternoon from 2 to 4 p.m. with cash prizes. The night will conclude with a wonderful fireworks show on the lake.

As always, please use safety precautions when boating or participating in other lake activities at any lake this weekend.

Spring Inflows Boost Lake McConaughy

Spring Inflows Boost Lake McConaughy

Spring has been good to Lake McConaughy this year, both in terms of inflows and outflows: quite a bit of the former and not so much of the latter. Several factors combined to bring about these circumstances.

First, snowpack in both the North Platte River Basin and the South Platte River Basin was well above median (normal) levels. When the spring melt began, the water began flowing into storage reservoirs. Despite the fact that the federal reservoirs on the North Platte River in Wyoming were well below normal in terms of carry-over storage, the mere fact that storage supplies were being replenished was good news.

Entering May, there was little cause for optimism. During a period when inflows to Lake McConaughy historically begin to rise, inflows were relatively flat and hovering around 60% of normal. However, shortly after the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation began moving water from its larger upstream reservoirs down to Glendo Reservoir in preparation for releases to irrigation canals in eastern Wyoming and western Nebraska, the lower basin was hit with a series of heavy snowfall and precipitation events. The additional inflow pushed Glendo Reservoir into its flood pool and water was released down the North Platte River to make room for the extra water entering Glendo.

As a result, Lake McConaughy benefited from an unexpected spike in inflows that lasted from mid-May until the middle of June. Central’s main storage reservoir – thought to have peaked in early May – rose to a second peak near the end of June before inflows diminished, falling back below historic median flow rates.

At the same time, high flows in the South Platte River resulting from heavy snowmelt runoff and precipitation from spring thunderstorms entered Nebraska. For a period of several weeks, Central could hold water in Lake McConaughy and divert excess South Platte water into the Supply Canal to help fill the irrigation canals. Water in excess of amounts that could be diverted continued on down the Platte River, exceeding the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s target flows for wildlife habitat purposes and allowing Central to divert excess flows into Elwood Reservoir for groundwater recharge purposes in both the Platte and Republican River basins. As of June 24, Elwood Reservoir’s elevation had gone up by more than eight feet.

University of Nebraska Kearney Students Tour Central’s Project

University of Nebraska Kearney Students Tour Central’s Project

UNK tour group May 2014

Above: UNK Students and Professors pose for a group photo with Central’s Holly Rahmann on the shores of Jeffrey Lake.

 

Students from the University of Nebraska-Kearney recently participated in a tour of Central’s hydro-irrigation project, learning about irrigation, hydroelectric generation, wildlife habitat, recreation, groundwater recharge and – at the end of the tour – how to paddle a canoe.

Ten students and two professors spent two days with Public Relations Coordinator Jeff Buettner and Public Relations Assistant Holly Rahmann. They also heard on-site presentations from Senior Biologist Mark Peyton about wildlife habitat at Jeffrey Island, Gothenburg Division Manager Kevin Boyd at the Gothenburg Control Center, and Kingsley Dam Foreman Nate Nielsen at the Lake McConaughy Visitors Center and the Kingsley Hydroplant.

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Above: UNK students listen as Central’s Jeff Buettner explains the operations of the canal system shown.

UNK’s Summer Student Research Program, under Honors Program Director John Falconer, was established in 2002 to provide multi-disciplinary research opportunities to UNK undergraduates. Through this program, students work one-on-one with faculty experts to conduct original scholarly projects in their field of study. The experience increases knowledge in their discipline, improves critical thinking skills, and oral and written communication skills.

The summer program starts with a field trip to begin building a sense of community among the students, and to increase their understanding of south-central Nebraska. A “sense of place” is known to be an important factor in student development. The trip, hosted by Central each year, helps students learn how different audiences understand and use water resources that are vital to our regional economy. They also see how private and public organizations collaborate on important issues.

At the end of the tour, the students piled out of their vans and into canoes for an approximately 7-mile trip down the Supply Canal from just below Midway Lake to Gallagher Canyon Lake.

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Above: Students launch canoes and begin their trip down the stretch of canal.

International Students Tour Central’s Hydro-Irrigation Project

International Students Tour Central’s Hydro-Irrigation Project

Central hosted 20 international students and four instructors for a recent tour of the hydro-irrigation project.
The tour group was part of a field course coordinated by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization’s Institute for Water Education (UNESCO-IHE) which is based in The Netherlands. UNESCO-IHE partners with the Daugherty Water for Food Institute at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln (DWFI/UNL), which in turn, partnered with Central to bring the students to Nebraska and to Central’s project area.

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(Above: Kingsley Dam Foreman Nate Nielsen (top center) explains hydroelectric operations near a spare wicket gate.)

The 14-day field course, coordinated by the DWFI/UNL faculty, is composed of two elements, field measurements and a field trip. The field trip gives the students the opportunity to observe hydraulic engineering structures, irrigation schemes and structures, the manufacturing of water management equipment, including center pivots, PVC pipe, water meters, and vertical turbine pumps, and the installation of subsurface drip irrigation (SDI).

Part of the tour group’s two days with Central included a stop at the Monsanto Water Utilization Learning Center near Gothenburg. The students also visited Central’s administrative headquarters in Holdrege; learned about Central’s Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA) operations during a “virtual tour” of the control room; stopped at several sites within the irrigated area to see SDI and pivot sites and canal control structures; toured the Lake McConaughy Water Interpretive Center as well as the reservoir’s outlet structures and the Kingsley Hydroplant. The group stayed overnight at Jeffrey Lodge at Jeffrey Reservoir.

Students are required to develop a report that accounts for the site visits. In the field measurements portion of the course, students collect and analyze data and write technical reports that include their synthesis and interpretation of the results and a summary of each project. Topics include efficiency and analysis of irrigation systems, groundwater and wells, discharge measurement in streams and pipelines, pumping systems for irrigation, pipeline hydraulics, soil water measurement, and soil hydraulic properties.

The students at UNESCO-IHE are pursuing M.S. degrees in water science and engineering, specializing in land and water development. The students are experienced professionals from developing countries. This year’s class included students from Ethiopia, Ghana, Guyana, Indonesia, Kenya, Nepal, Nigeria, Pakistan, Swaziland, Tanzania and Zimbabwe.

Since 1957 the Institute has provided graduate education to more than 14,500 water professionals from over 160 countries, the vast majority from the developing world. Numerous research and capacity development projects are carried out throughout the world. The Institute offers a unique combination of applied, scientific and participatory research in water engineering combined with natural sciences and management sciences. Since its establishment the Institute has played an instrumental role in developing the capacities of water sector organizations, not least by strengthening the efforts of other universities and research centers to increase the knowledge and skills of professionals working in the water sector.

Laszlo Hayde and Sur Suryadi from IHE accompanied the tour group from the Netherlands. UNL faculty on the tour included Dean Eisenhauer and Derek Heeren. Central personnel who met with the students included Irrigation Division Manager Dave Ford, Kingsley Dam Foreman Nate Nielsen, and Gothenburg Division Manager Kevin Boyd. Public Relations Coordinator Jeff Buettner was the tour guide and host. Monte Vonasek of Central Valley Irrigation and John Ford, a producer and irrigation customer, also met with the group to share information about on-farm irrigation systems.

New Employee Project Tour

New Employee Project Tour

Eight new employees at Central recently participated in a one-day tour of the project to become more familiar with the many facilities that are part of operating the system.

Starting at the Holdrege Administrative Headquarters, the group traveled through parts of the irrigated area that included irrigation canals, laterals and turnouts, check structures and pivot sites using water from the canal system. After passing through the area that is the future site of the J-2 Regulating Reservoirs, the employees stopped at the headgate of the Phelps Canal and the J-2 River Return, which is the terminus of the 76-mile-long Supply Canal.

The group also stopped at Elwood Reservoir and the Carl T. Curtis Pump Station before visiting the Johnson Lake inlet and the headgate of the E65 Canal. After a stop at the Control Center in Gothenburg, where they learned about how Central’s control operators manage water flows, hydroelectric generation and communications throughout the District, the group visited Jeffrey Reservoir, Jeffrey Lodge and Jeffrey Hydroplant.

After lunch in North Platte, the group continued on to Kingsley Dam and Lake McConaughy where they had the opportunity to browse through the Lake McConaughy Water Interpretive Center, go out on the “Morning Glory” spillway and Control Tower, and received a guided tour through the Kingsley Hydroplant.

On the way back home, the employees stopped at the Nebraska Public Power District’s Keystone Diversion Dam at the east end of Lake Ogallala, and made one last stop at Central’s North Platte Diversion Dam.

All told, the tour group traveled more than 400 miles in about 10 hours and despite the wind and cool temperatures (particularly on the control structures at Lake McConaughy, gained a more complete understanding of how all the facilities within Central’s project fit together to provide benefits for irrigation, hydroelectric generation, recreation, wildlife habitat and groundwater recharge.

 

New employees - 2014

Employees who participated in the tour include (pictured left to right): Dustin Ehlers, general maintenance in Gothenburg; Jason Dorsey, who accompanied his wife, Kristen Dorsey, administrative assistant in Holdrege; Jarred Rickertsen, electrical/mechanical maintenance, Gothenburg; Brent DeBoer, assistant control operator, Gothenburg; and Jake Sitorius, Blake Munster, Scott Peterson, and Ethan Lambert, all in general maintenance at the Gothenburg Division office.

 

Post written by Jeff Buettner – CNPPID Public Relations Coordinator

Family Adventure Day at Johnson Lake

Family Adventure Day at Johnson Lake

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May 17, 2014
Family Adventure Day
10:00 am – 1:00 pm @ East Campground Johnson Lake;
Sponsored by the Nebraska Game & Parks.
Activities: Boy Scout demonstration of dutch oven cooking, s’mores, scavenger hunt, a Naturalist with displays of birds & mammals, canoeing, hunting for sandbox treasures and much more!!!

Water Conservation Report

Water Conservation Report

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Spring moisture has improved somewhat from last year and we expect summer to follow suit however, nothing in the forecast is indicating “wet” summer conditions at this time.

Short of an epic rain event upstream of Lake McConaughy, Central irrigators will have a 9 acre-inch/acre water allocation in 2014. One-year delivery transfers have been allowed between farms and those transactions are complete. Groundwater transfers through Central’s canals will be allowed where possible and where approved by the Tri-Basin NRD.

A slow fill of the canals has begun with a combined flow of South Platte River water and our small, mandatory releases from McConaughy. Unless water supply conditions change substantially, water from the supply canal lakes, including Johnson Lake, must be used for the last irrigation to conserve water supply for the 2015 season in McConaughy.

There will be near 530 pivots, several new swing arms and 17 sub-surface drip systems on the Central system in 2014. Gated irrigation pipe is fast becoming a relic of the past. Central producers have made significant investments to stretch their water supply while increasing yield. Beyond the irrigation systems upgrades; precision equipment, no-till, strip-till, and field soil moisture and weather monitoring are becoming the norm. Our producers are definitely the A-team, bringing their game to 2014!

As of May 12th, Elwood Reservoir surface elevation is 2,583.8’ above MSL or 23.2’ below conservation pool. It will not be filled for irrigation this season but could possibly see summer gains if excess flows occur in the Platte River. Lake McConaughy surface elevation is 3,238.0’ or 27.0’ below conservation pool and is storing 1,043,000 acre-feet of water.

 

Submitted by Marcia Trompke, CNPPID Conservation Director

Boating Safety

Boating Safety

[youtube height=”456″ width=”700″]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tSoyoGzSgRc&feature=youtu.be[/youtube]

As summer nears and lake season gets in to full swing, please remember to use safety when boating!

New Law REQUIRES Safety Course!

Nebraska law requires any motorboat operator (including personal watercraft) born after December 31, 1985, complete a Boating Safety Course and be in possession of a course certificate when operating the boat.  You must be at least 14 years of age to operate a motorboat (including personal watercraft) in Nebraska.  Classes are offered throughout the state in two options ( A or B ).

For more information on Nebraska’s boating laws, or to find a boating safety course near you, visit Nebraska Game and Park’s boating website.


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