Johnson Lake Drawdown Allows for Clean Up

Johnson Lake Drawdown Allows for Clean Up

Central decided to take advantage of the low water levels at Johnson Lake and do some shoreline maintenance work. As the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission worked to complete their Angler Access Project near the inlet at Johnson Lake, the water levels remained around eight feet lower than normal through most of October. This drawdown allowed cabin owners to clean up shoreline areas and also allowed Central to do some shoreline work.

Kent Aden uses his personal utility vehicle to spray an aquatic herbicide on the shoreline at Johnson Lake.

Kent Aden uses his personal utility vehicle to spray an aquatic herbicide on the shoreline at Johnson Lake.

Kent Aden is shown here testing a new aquatic herbicide in attempt to control the sago pondweed, which has been a concern for many lake residents. According to the USDA website, the sago pondweed plant is beneficial for wildlife and erosion control, but can become overgrown, and should be controlled in lakes commonly used for recreation and irrigation¹.

1. Sago Pondweed Fact Sheet. Retrieved from: http://plants.usda.gov/factsheet/pdf/fs_stpe15.pdf.

 

Curtis Technical Agriculture School Students Experience Central’s Project

Curtis Technical Agriculture School Students Experience Central’s Project

Students from the University of Nebraska Technical Agriculture School in Curtis enjoyed a “mini-tour” of parts of Central’s hydro-irrigation project on a recent October day.

Eleven NCTA students, shepherded by Assistant Professor of Agronomy Brad Ramsdale and Dick Neel, the Nebraska Farm Bureau Federation’s regional director of membership, who facilitated the tour, met Central personnel at the Lake McConaughy Visitors Center after spending a few hours touring sites in the Republican River Basin.

After going through the Water Interpretive Center and viewing a video about the many benefits from water in the Platte River Basin, the group went out on Kingsley Dam and Lake McConaughy’s control structures. Kingsley Dam Foreman Nate Nielsen then explained the workings of the Kingsley Hydroplant – where several of the students seemed to take a particular interest in the plant’s “socket and wrench set” – before stopping at Ole’s Big Game Bar and Grill in Paxton for lunch courtesy of Central.

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Kingsley Dam Foreman Nate Nielsen (center) explains the operation of the Kingsley Hydroplant on the generator floor.

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One of the NCTA students hoists a wrench used for maintenance tasks at Kingsley Hydroplant.

Then it was off to the Gothenburg Control Center, where Electrical Superintendent Devin Brundage explained Central’s highly automated system for monitoring and controlling water all the way through its hydro-irrigation project. The students then participated in a discussion about the history and impact of the federal Endangered Species Act before heading back to campus and (presumably) their homework.

According to Dick Neel, the tour was an opportunity for the students to “gain an understanding of how the water system of Nebraska works, as well as why it works.”

“Prehistoric Fish” Stocked in Two Central Supply Canal Lakes

“Prehistoric Fish” Stocked in Two Central Supply Canal Lakes
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American paddlefish

The Nebraska Game and Parks Commission recently stocked 990 paddlefish in two small lakes along The Central Nebraska Public Power and Irrigation District’s Supply Canal.

Gallagher Canyon and Midway lakes, as well as the Supply Canal that conveys water to the lakes, were determined to be suitable habitat for the fish, which were about 12 inches long when placed in the lakes in September. However, paddlefish commonly grow as long as five feet and weigh up to 60 pounds. According to information from the U.S. Geological Survey, the largest paddlefish ever caught in the United States was 85 inches long, weighed 198 pounds and was speared in Iowa’s Lake Okoboji in 1916. Nebraska’s state record paddlefish was snagged below Gavins Point Dam in 2011. That specimen weighed 107 pounds and measured 51-3/4 inches long.

Paddlefish usually seek riverine habitat with deep water and low currents or areas such as side channels or backwaters, making the Supply Canal and the canyon lakes ideal for such fish. Nationwide, paddlefish are found in only 22 states within the Missouri and Mississippi basins.

Paddlefish are characterized by a long snout (the paddle from which its name is derived), called a rostrum, which makes up about one-third of the fish’s length. Thousands of tiny pores are located on the rostrum, which act as electro-receptors that allow the fish to sense weak electrical fields emitted by its miniscule prey. They are filter feeders, swimming slowly with their large mouths open so that zooplankton pass over gill rakers that strain the tiny organisms from the water.

“As filter feeders, they will compete with carp and suckers for food,” said Central Senior Biologist Mark Peyton. “Stocking paddlefish in these lakes may provide another wonderful opportunity for recreation on our canal system and I fully support the efforts.”

Peyton mentioned a recent precedent for paddlefish surviving in reservoirs along canals in western Nebraska that suggests that paddlefish could do well in Central’s canal and lakes. In 1996, a 140-pound paddlefish was discovered in Lake Maloney, a regulating reservoir south of North Platte fed by the Sutherland Canal and owned by the Nebraska Public Power District. The huge fish (75 inches long and, at 140 pounds, much heavier than the current state record) was found floating in the reservoir with a wound caused by a boat propeller, although it was not clear whether the wound killed the fish, or if the fish was dead when struck by the boat.

According to an NGPC spokesman’s comments to the media at the time, it was suspected that the fish escaped from an NGPC holding pond connected to the reservoir in the 1950s or ‘60s. The huge fish was estimated to have been between 40 and 60 years old.

Paddlefish are often referred to as “prehistoric” fish because fossil records indicate that the fish first appeared 300 to 400 million years (pre-dating the “Age of Dinosaurs” by 50 million years).

The fish is protected under state and federal laws, but can be caught during limited seasons by holders who have special permits (for more information, see the NGPC’s web site). However, because the paddlefish grows at a relatively slow rate and take years to reach reproductive age, it will be many years before the population in the canal system is able to sustain a fishing season. In addition, while the canal and canyon lakes may be places where the paddlefish can thrive, it is not known whether the fish will successfully reproduce in the new habitat.

The NGPC intends to continue its stocking efforts for several years, using young fish raised at the Calamus and North Platte hatcheries. For now, the Missouri River is the closest place for Nebraskans to catch paddlefish, but it is hoped that the population will grow to the point that a season can be established in Central’s Supply Canal and canyon lakes.

 

From the Archives: Dam Named in Honor of George P. Kingsley

From the Archives: Dam Named in Honor of George P. Kingsley

(Reproduced verbatim from the Hastings Daily Tribune, July 7, 1937)

Major Tri-County Unit Will Memorialize George P. Kingsley, Pioneer Project Leader

The Trico board of directors late yesterday took steps to adopt the name Kingsley Dam for the major unit of the Tri-County power and irrigation district.

George P. Kingsley

George P. Kingsley

The name thus chosen memorializes the late George P. Kingsley, who throughout the last 20 years of his life contributed more in means, time and energy to this particular public works movement than any other person.

Heretofore the unit has been informally called the Keystone dam, because the location is close to the town of Keystone. The latter, however, is below the dam and bears no relation to the unit except proximity, and that is a matter of some four or five miles.

George P. Kingsley was the father of Dr. D.W. Kingsley who has been president of the district organization since it was organized under the law known as Senate File No. 310. He piloted the movement through its most discouraging stages, never faltering in the face of almost insurmountable obstacles, and donating constantly to the funds which were required for its promotion.

Countless trips to Washington, long stays at Washington and at the state capitol, attendance at meetings without number in Nebraska, and unceasing labor with scientists, technical persons, industrial leaders and others who had a part in shaping the project and bringing it to the favorable attention of the public, were all a part of Kingsley’s contribution.

The action of the Trico board is in full compliance with the PWA rule forbidding the naming of public works units after living persons. Though an exception was made in the case of the Norris, dam, the rule otherwise has been invariably observed with reference to all structural units of major importance.

The death of George Kingsley preceded the approval of Tri-County by the president and the public works administration.

Though he did not live to see the full realization of the dream to which he and a few others had dedicated the later years of their lives, he had definitely concluded that on the basis of merit and the opportunity provided through the government’s enlarged participation in public works that sooner or later constructions and operation of the project was inevitable.

Authority was given by the board of a request to PWA that the official name be recorded in the files, maps, charts and other records at Washington.

The Kingsley Dam will create a lake that will extend back the river for a distance of 23 miles. It will be one of the largest inland bodies of water in America, next to the Great Lakes, and the dam itself in size will rank second in the world to Fort Peck in the earth fill classification.

Lake McConaughy Sign Gets Fresh Coat of Paint

Lake McConaughy Sign Gets Fresh Coat of Paint

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Central teamed up with the group Keep Keith County Beautiful to re-vamp the iconic “Leave only your footprints please!” sign located on the shore of Lake McConaughy.

Central funded the project, which included repairing and repainting the cement slab. The sign had not been touched-up since August 1989.

Originally, the cement slab served as an unloading dock for the railroad as supplies were brought in on rail cars during construction of the dam. Although at times of high tide it is covered by water, most days it welcomes guests to Lake McConaughy with a friendly reminder to keep the beaches free of trash and debris.

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Removal of Lost Creek Flume

Removal of Lost Creek Flume
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Central employees begin removal of flume structure following the end of irrigation deliveries for 2014.

Work began this week on removal of the Lost Creek Flume west of Axtell. The flume, approximately 1,300 feet in length, is original to the project and has required numerous repairs. Over the years, it has deteriorated to a point that repair is no longer feasible, and Central’s board of directors voted in May to replace it with 2,700 feet of 42 inch pipeline, which will be used to continue to provide water to 1,785 acres downstream of the flume.

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A view from on top of the flume. Water is seen flowing through to provide irrigation water during summer 2014.

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The check gate shown here is used to control flow of water through the flume.

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Lake McConaughy Listed in Top 27 Camping Places

Lake McConaughy Listed in Top 27 Camping Places

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Budget Travel Vacation Ideas – Best Places to go Camping

Budgettravel.com recently released a photo story about the top 27 places to go camping. Along with the expected beaches of various Caribbean islands, mountainous state parks, and foreign wonderlands lies Central’s very own beaches of Lake McConaughy, listed at number three. Click the link above to see it yourself!

 

 

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

Kingsley Dam Dedication – July 22, 1941

Kingsley Dam Dedication – July 22, 1941

On this day in 1941, Kingsley Dam was officially dedicated. Water storage in Lake McConaughy began to fill and irrigation water was delivered that same year. The project as a whole was officially completed in 1943.

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Chief Engineer George E. Johnson is shown above speaking at the dedication ceremony.

 

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A large crowd gathered to attend the official dedication of Kingsley Dam.

 

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Two young girls are shown here cutting a string to drop a capsule into the dam at the ceremony.

 

For more information on the history of the Central Nebraska Public Power and Irrigation District, visit our History page here.


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