Columbus, Neb. – Finally, hot weather has made its arrival in Nebraska and with Independence Day holiday this week comes more use by the public of various lakes, reservoirs and canals owned by Nebraska Public Power District.
Water plays an integral part in Nebraska Public Power District’s electric generation system, whether it is for producing electricity by using water to turn turbines in a hydroelectric facility or for producing steam for operations in coal and nuclear power plants.
NPPD’s water system, located in the western part of the state, includes Sutherland Reservoir, Lake Maloney, portions of Lake Ogallala, and the 60 mile long Sutherland Canal, are all open for public use and have become popular locations for recreational activities – primarily boating and fishing along with swimming at designated locations.
While intended for the generation of electricity and irrigation purposes, the District encourages the use of its water facilities for recreation, but also urges users to be cautious around water.
One of the favorite areas for fishing is along the Sutherland Canal. NPPD Director of Safety Chris Overman commented, “We have had a few incidents where individuals have gone into the water along the canal system, for one reason or another, and have been unable to get out on their own, due to the steep banks of the canal.” The end result has been rescue efforts by local emergency responders.
Because of those steep banks and swift water, no wading, boating or watercraft are permitted in the canal. Those anglers fishing from the banks are advised to wear life jackets and should be there with a partner or let others know where they are fishing. Emergency buoys with ropes are also located at regular intervals along the canal to help in any rescue effort.
Another location that does not allow for boating or swimming is the tail race below the North Platte Hydroelectric Plant, due to the fast current. Swimmers and boaters are also prohibited from accessing areas near canals, flow-control devices and any posted areas. On Sutherland Reservoir, Lake Ogallala and Lake Maloney, NPPD urges boaters to operate their equipment in a safe manner and to check boating regulations required by the Nebraska Game and Parks.
“We have buoys that mark areas restricted to boating. “We ask boaters to observe caution signs and speed limits on the water and wear life jackets while on or near the water at all times,” Overman added “NPPD values safety, and never wants to see a member of the public injured or worse while enjoying the recreational benefits of NPPD’s facilities.” Designated swimming locations for the public are available at both Sutherland Reservoir and Lake Maloney.