Reservoirs & Irrigation Canals

The District also operates the intricate network of irrigation canals, dams and reservoirs along a 150-mile stretch of the Platte River which help power its hydro plants. In addition to the essential role the water plays in irrigating farmland and generating electricity in the area, the reservoir system provides fishing, hunting and boating opportunities for all Nebraskans.

Nebraska Public Power District (NPPD) invites you to use and enjoy our public recreation areas. As a public utility and a subdivision of Nebraska state government, NPPD is owned by its customers and the customers of its wholesale electrical partners.

Because we are a public utility, many areas of our lakes and other facilities are open to the public for outdoor activities. Popular activities at our scenic public recreation areas include fishing, boating, camping, golfing, bird watching, hiking and seasonal hunting.

Lake Maloney – The lake is located along Highway 83, five miles south of the Interstate 80 exit at North Platte, Neb. Lake Maloney is used to regulate the flow of water for generating electricity at NPPD’s nearby North Platte Hydro facility. The 1,650-surface-acre reservoir is a popular place for fishing, skiing and boating. A handicap-accessible fishing pier, fish-cleaning station and 57 camping pads with electrical hookups are available at the lake’s Inlet Recreation Area.

Lake Maloney’s Outlet Recreation Area has camp sites, a trailer dump station, two boat ramp/docks, a fish-cleaning station and a shower house. Primitive camp sites are also available at several locations around the lake, and an 18-hole golf course is nearby. Entry to the lake requires a day or season pass from the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission. Camping fees are posted.

Lake Ogallala/Sutherland Supply Canal – Lake Ogallala and the Sutherland Supply Canal are among the top trout fisheries in the state. The area is also one of the best places in the nation for viewing a wide variety of native and migratory birds, including bald eagles.

The lake is formed by the Keystone Dam on the North Platte River. Canal roads can be accessed east from Highway 61 or north from U.S. 30 at Roscoe and Paxton. Because of steep banks and swift water, no wading, boating or watercraft are permitted in the canal. Anglers fishing from the banks are recommended to wear life jackets. Emergency buoys with ropes are location along the canal. This is a day-us area; no overnight camping is allowed.

Sutherland ReservoirSutherland Reservoir– The Sutherland Reservoir is a 3,000-surface-acre lake located three miles south of the Interstate 80 Exit at Sutherland, Neb. NPPD owns and manages the Sutherland Reservoir, part of its hydropower system. Nebraska Game and Parks Commission (NGPC) oversees most of the recreation areas at the lake. A day or season pass is required for entry into NGPC areas.

Primitive campsites are located on the east and west sides of the lake, while a private camping area with electrical hook-ups and a nine-hole golf course are located along the north shore. Four boat launching ramps and two swimming areas are available. NPPD maintains a roost and perch tree protection program for eagles and — during the winter months — bird watchers can observe numerous wintering American Bald Eagles.

Other public-use areas in central Nebraska owned by NPPD

Biking and hiking trails have been developed in recent years along NPPD waterways in central Nebraska. Trails were built by municipal parks and recreation departments with cooperation from community organizations.

North Platte Trail – In North Platte, the city’s riding and hiking path continues on the south side of town along NPPD’s North Platte Hydro tailrace canal. Trail users travel under Interstate 80 on a low-water bridge along the canal. Hikers and bikers pass along the grass and gravel canal maintenance road to State Farm Road where the route continues west. From the bridge, trail users receive a fine view of the North Platte Hydro. Fishing is allowed north of the bridge, but not immediately downstream of the North Platte Hydro. Boaters and swimmers are restricted from the tailrace canal.

Kearney Canal Trail – The City of Kearney and Buffalo County Parks and Recreation Department constructed an 8-foot-wide concrete trail along NPPD’s Kearney Canal in 1996. The 2.6-mile scenic corridor is a gradual downhill grade from Cottonmill Park to the University of Nebraska at Kearney campus. The 16-mile-long canal was built in the 1880s to divert Platte River water for irrigation and electrical generation. Cottonmill Lake once served as a reservoir for a cotton mill and now is a city park. The Kearney Dam & Hydro date to 1889. The 1.485-megawatt hydro-generator in the turret-looking tower was refurbished by NPPD in 1996. Access to NPPD’s dam and hydro areas near the trail is restricted with no swimming or boating allowed.