The Central Nebraska Public Power and Irrigation District donated four portable water pumps this summer to fire departments in the Johnson Lake area.
The floating pumps will enable the volunteer fire departments – from Lexington, Elwood, Cozad and Eustis – to access water directly from lakes or canals in the vicinity of fires to supplement water available from tanker trucks.
The four pumps cost a total of about $13,000 and, according to Central Public Relations Advisor Tim Anderson, are kind of like insurance.
“We hope they never have to be used,” he said, “but they’ll be a nice addition to the fire fighters’ equipment in the event of a fire at the lake or another remote area where access to water is limited.”
The donation of the pumps came in the wake of a multiple-structure fire at Johnson Lake in 2013. One cabin was completely destroyed and two other cabins sustained extensive damage.
Anderson said the after-action report indicated that responding fire departments encountered difficulties with obtaining enough water to fight the fires.
He added that the pumps can be deployed quickly and, given the mutual aid agreement between the four fire departments, all four pumps could be used at the same time if necessary. Each pump can deliver about 300 gallons per minute.
“We thought – and the board of directors agreed — it was a good use of the lake improvement fund,” Anderson said, referring to money budgeted each year for improvements at Johnson Lake.