North Platte, Neb. – Nebraska Public Power District will begin lowering the water levels in its Sutherland Project canals from the Keystone diversion west of Paxton to Lake Maloney for a planned inspection and maintenance outage.
Flows into the canals will be curtailed by October 1 as part of a planned inspection required by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), which licenses and inspects private and municipal, hydroelectric projects such as the Sutherland Project. The independent inspection is scheduled for every five years but was delayed a year due to high water levels in the Platte system during the summer and fall of 2011. Following the inspection, which requires the canal system to be dewatered; flows are anticipated to be returned back into the canal by mid-November.
The canals will be dewatered according to John Shadle, NPPD water resources advisor, allowing FERC inspectors to view conditions of the canal bottom and banks that cannot normally be seen when filled with water. Water levels at Lake Maloney are projected to go from its normal operating level of 3005 feet to slightly below 3000 feet, before inflows to the canal system begins again in mid-November. The FERC Inspection will also be done on the Lake Maloney dam which was repaired in 2009.
NPPD is coordinating with the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission for fish salvaging operations that occurs when the canals are dewatered for maintenance or inspections.
“While we have the canals dewatered, NPPD will be doing some additional maintenance work on canals from the Keystone diversion down to the Lake Maloney inlet,” said Shadle. “Working with the Game and Parks Commission will also help mitigate the impacts to the canal fishery.”
Homeowners at Lake Maloney were notified in August of the lowering of inflows and necessary actions they may want to take regarding docks and shore stations while the lake levels are down.
With the inflows into Lake Maloney stopped, the North Platte Hydro Plant will not resume operations until mid-November, when those inflows return.