NPPD keeping watchful eye on Missouri River

June 20, 2014

Brownville — Nebraska Public Power District employees at Cooper Nuclear Station are monitoring Missouri River water levels which have risen due to recent heavy rains and higher than average snow melt in upper reaches of the river basin. As of Friday afternoon, the river’s elevation was around 35.1 feet or 891.6 feet above sea level at the station. The plant is at full power and continues to operate safely.

The plant is elevated 13 feet above the natural grade to an elevation of 903 feet mean sea level as part of its design against flooding from the Missouri River. In addition, plant operators continuously monitor the increasing levels and water flows. For plant operation and public safety, NPPD takes the following proactive measures:  

  • When levels reach >895’ – or are expected to be > 902′ within 36 hours – Cooper follows a special procedure specific to anticipated flooding conditions.
  • At 896’, the Brownville Road is generally impacted and may be closed. If so, plant workers detour through Nemaha, Neb.
  • If the river reaches 898’ Cooper begins following an additional procedure which involves installing primary flood barriers.
  • Should the river reach 899’ NPPD would determine whether to declare a Notification of Unusual Event, which is the lowest of four emergency classifications.  
  • At 900’, plant personnel would install secondary flood barriers.
  • If the river reached a level of 902’, Cooper would enter an ALERT emergency classification.

Current projection estimates are for the river to crest at 1 p.m. Sunday at 893.6 feet above sea level or 37.1 feet. To stay abreast of the river levels near Cooper, visit NPPD’s webpage at

The National Weather Service hosts information on river levels and a conversion chart is available, should you want to compare sea level to feet.

For historical perspective, Cooper has safely operated during previous flooding events. In 1993 and 2011, river levels increased to 901’. In 2008, the river crested at 896’ and 899’ in 2010.

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