Pumping Water into Elwood Reservoir

Pumping Water into Elwood Reservoir

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The Central Nebraska Public Power and Irrigation District is in the process of partially filling Elwood Reservoir in preparation for the 2015 irrigation season.

With irrigation customers limited to 12 inches/acre over the coming irrigation season, a completely full Elwood Reservoir will not be necessary.  Instead, Central will divert 15,000 acre-feet of water into Elwood, raising the reservoir’s elevation to about 2,602 feet by the end of May.  The normal maximum elevation is 2,607 feet.

By limiting the amount of water pumped into the reservoir, Central will be able to conserve thousands of acre-feet in Lake McConaughy.  Central’s storage rights require that water pumped into Elwood Reservoir for irrigation purposes must be a transfer of storage water from Lake McConaughy.

To accomplish the fill schedule, Central plans to operate two of the three pumps at the Carl T. Curtis Pump Station in April, and then use one pump during May to reach the intended level.  The pumping process will raise the reservoir’s elevation by 14 feet between April 1 and the end of May.

In addition to providing water for irrigation customers, inflows into the reservoir will benefit the fishery at the lake, as well as providing some incidental groundwater recharge benefits.  Central, in cooperation with Tri-Basin NRD and the Nebraska Department of Natural Resources, had diverted 15,000 acre-feet into the reservoir for groundwater recharge last year – water that was in excess of target flows and other uses in the Platte River – and then added another 15,000 acre-feet for recharge purposes in December and January.  Water that is pumped into the reservoir is allowed to seep into the ground, thereby helping the area’s groundwater level, as well as augmenting base flows in the Platte River as the water eventually moves underground back to the river.

E-65 Canal Groundwater Recharge Project

E-65 Canal Groundwater Recharge Project

Above normal flows in the South Platte River this fall has allowed Central to partner with Tri-Basin Natural Resource District and the Nebraska Department of Natural Resources to divert excess flows into the E-65 canal system and Elwood Reservoir for groundwater recharge. Agreements allow a total of 10,000 acre-feet of water total to be diverted into Central’s system of canals and lakes, allowing for Tri-Basin and the State of Nebraska to get credit for recharge in the Republican and Platte River basins. Diversions began on December 10, 2014, and so far approximately 6,500 a-f of water has been diverted. Elwood reservoir has risen five feet in elevation due to this project.

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This photo shows icy water held in the E-65 canal system from miles 19.3 to 20.1, allowing for groundwater recharge from Johnson Lake to the area shown above near Smithfield.

 

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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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.

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.

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.

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


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