For further details, see our eagle info page here.
For further details, see our eagle info page here.
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.
Colder weather has Central’s staff working towards preparing for winter activities. One of the most popular winter activities at Central is the eagle-viewing season. Central opens two eagle-viewing centers – one at the J-2 Powerhouse near Lexington, Neb., and one on the shores of Lake Ogallala – where viewing is available in a heated setting, and open to the public each weekend from late December through early March.
For many years the J-2 Powerhouse has seen its share of eagles that enjoy the quiet atmosphere and open water for a supply of food. A favorite resting place for the eagles has been a dead tree on the west side of the canal not far from the powerhouse building. Over the summer, this “favorite” tree fell, and Central employees felt it needed a replacement.
The new perch pole seen above was constructed by Gothenburg employees and set up near where the old tree stood in hopes that the eagles may use it in a similar fashion.
For more information on eagle-viewing opportunities, visit our Eagle-Viewing web page.
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 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.
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.
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.”
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.
(Reproduced verbatim from the Hastings Daily Tribune, July 7, 1937)
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.
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.
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.
Human interest stories are sprinkled through the many years of Tri-County promotion.
Human interest stories have also cropped up at frequent intervals during the huge construction program. There has been humor and tragedy.
Best story of recent months coming from the far-flung construction front could have been tragic. It wasn’t, and its very hair-raising details would make it subject matter for the writers of those stories which keep you holding your breath but always turn out all right in the end.
Here are the details:
Robert McCoy, 26, on December 6, 1939, was employed by the contractors building the huge earth fill at Kingsley Dam. He and a companion were on a boat tending the openings from which water drains from what is known as the “core pool,” the body of water visible in the central picture on the front of this section of the Tapeline (see photo below).
The core pool is formed by the clay and water pumped from the hills south of the dam. The water brings the clay, the clay settles to form the impervious core of the dam. The core is built up by the dredging of loess soil from the hard ground south of the river, while the bulk of the dam is given form by the piling up of sand dredged from the river bed.
Look at the panoramic view of the incompleted dam. You will see a small speck near the center of the view, to the left of the long line which is the pipe carrying clay from the hillside to the core pool. That speck is the opening of a 24-inch pipe, one of several. (The “speck” is not visible in the accompanying photo, which is not the same one published in the Hastings Daily Tribune.) This pipe and its companions serve to drain water from the core pool after the silt has settled to its permanent place in the huge fill.
Getting back to McCoy. He fell off his boat and was caught in the rush of water into the pipe. He went in feet first, dropped about 300 feet, made the right angle turn at an elbow and was bumped along for some 500 feet through the 24-inch corrugated pipe to the outlet at the upstream toe of the dam.
His companion was helpless. When McCoy disappeared, the only thought of the man left on the boat was how to get the body out of the pipe. It would be lodged in the elbow, he assumed.
This second man hurried to a nearby shack to report to fellow workers. He had barely explained the situation when up from the toe of the dam came McCoy. He entered the shack and collapsed.
Considerable muddy water was pumped from his lungs. He was ill for a few days and his face was mighty sore from being knocked against the corrugated pipe. Otherwise, there is nothing else to the story, as it is told by the Tri-County workmen who have looked over the scene and are still wondering how McCoy lived to tell about it.
The story has served to clarify for more than one person – this writer for example – the significance of the core pool in the dam project.
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.