Platte Basin Time-lapse & Crane Trust Tour Central’s Project

Platte Basin Time-lapse & Crane Trust Tour Central’s Project

Central personnel had the opportunity to take an interesting group of people on a tour of the hydro-irrigation project this summer, a group with more than just a passing interest in the Platte River.

Representatives from the Platte Basin Time-lapse Project and the Crane Trust, Inc., spent two days exploring many aspects of Central’s hydro-irrigation project, including parts of the irrigated area, the Jeffrey Island Habitat Area, Johnson Lake, the Gothenburg Control Center, the Jeffrey Hydroplant, Kingsley Dam and Lake McConaughy and the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission’s Lake McConaughy Water Interpretive Center.  Central’s two summer employees — college students studying wildlife ecology — who monitored nests established by least terns and piping plovers at Lake McConaughy also participated in the tour.

Time lapse crane trust central interns 2014 tour

Representatives of the Platte Basin Time-lapse Project, the Crane Trust and two of Central’s summer employees who monitored nesting by least terns and piping plovers at Lake McConaughy gather for a group picture on the Hilltop above Kingsley Dam.

In 2011, photographer Mike Forsberg and Nebraska Educational Telecommunications (NET) film producer Michael Farrell began a project to examine and document the growing demands of agriculture, municipalities, power generation, recreation and wildlife on the Platte Basin. The Platte Basin Time-lapse Project (PBT) is the result of that effort. The PBT is a private/public partnership with the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and NET, with support from numerous other organizations. By compressing time through time-lapse camera technology, various moments in the river’s processes can be seen in ways normally not perceptible. It also allows viewers to increase their understanding and appreciation of the Platte River and its importance to our region.

About 40 solar-powered time-lapse cameras are currently installed at important locations throughout the Platte Basin. The cameras automatically take one photo every daylight hour of everyday, allowing the capture of a moment in time. When stitched together — days, months, and years go by in minutes — the images provide a unique perspective about the many forces that act upon the river and the dynamics that fit together to shape the river from headwaters to mouth.

PBT staff created an interactive map after the tour that helps explain the hydro-irrigation project and its importance to the State of Nebraska.

The Crane Trust is a non-profit organization devoted to the protection and enhancement of habitats for whooping cranes, sandhill cranes and other migratory birds along the Big Bend Region of the Platte River Valley in Nebraska.

The Crane Trust was formed in 1978 as part of a court-approved settlement of a controversy over the construction of Grayrocks Dam on a tributary of the Platte River in Wyoming. The state of Nebraska and the National Wildlife Federation objected to the project, claiming it would jeopardize irrigation and wildlife downstream in Nebraska. The settlement satisfied requirements of the Endangered Species Act and allowed the Missouri Basin Power Project, owners of Grayrocks, to complete construction. The Crane Trust was funded by a payment from the Missouri Basin Power Project, and income from the endowment is used to finance land acquisition. The Trust is administered by three trustees who are appointed by the three participants in the settlement.

Once on opposite sides of the fence in how Platte River habitat should be managed, Central and the Crane Trust are now working together to ensure that there is enough water to provide all of the benefits – irrigated agriculture, power production, recreation, wildlife habitat, and groundwater recharge — on which Nebraska depends.

Jeffrey Lake Hydro morning horizon by Mike Forsbert

Sunrise over Jeffrey Hydroplant. (Photo by Mike Forsberg)

 

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.

UNKsummertour1

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.

UNKsummertour3

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.

UNESCO tour Nate 2014-05-23_11-35-53_99

(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


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