Columbus, Neb. – While Nebraska Public Power District encourages people to stay home during the pandemic, Memorial Day weekend will potentially bring some out to local waterways owned and operated by the District, weather permitting. NPPD is urging everyone using water resources such as Lake Maloney, Sutherland Reservoir, and the 63-mile long Sutherland Canal system to maintain social distancing requirements and obey all regulations related to boating.
NPPD has been operating Lake Maloney at a lower water level than normal the past few weeks. In order to safely operate the water system, the lake needs to be operated at a reduced level until further notice and is running approximately six inches below the normal operating level.
NPPD’s Water Systems is responsible for the operation of the North Platte Hydro and providing cooling water for Gerald Gentleman Station. As with most businesses, the coronavirus has forced precautionary restrictions on the work force and the staff operating the North Platte Hydro control room are under even further restrictions. The decision to allow some “cushion” room in Lake Maloney allows for operational flexibility should it be needed as part of the control and safe operation of the system.
Due to the operational changes, boaters may see more shallow areas in the lake and should be extra cautious.
Also, the beach area at Lake Maloney’s South Beach is currently closed, although the picnic area is open. Day use is allowed at NPPD recreational areas only, with no overnight camping. Check with Nebraska Game & Parks on any restrictions at their campgrounds at Sutherland and Lake Maloney. The District urges those who use those facilities to practice social distancing and to obey all posted regulations at these locations.
Be on the watch for zebra mussels
NPPD also wants to alert boaters of the issue of invasive species and remind them of three simple words: Clean. Drain. Dry. By doing so it will help stop a continuing problem of zebra mussels spreading into lakes and rivers across the Midwest and into Nebraska. Zebra mussels, which look like snails or clams, are small but destructive. They damage boats, clog water intakes and impact the environment of lakes and rivers where they live.
Zebra mussels multiply quickly and, while only the size of a fingernail individually; they attach in groups to solid objects in the water and cause big problems and have caused millions of dollars in damage to water systems and fisheries across the country.
NPPD uses water in the generation of electricity at three key locations including Gerald Gentleman Station by the Sutherland Reservoir, at the North Platte Hydroelectric Plant, and at Cooper Nuclear Station near Brownville along the Missouri River. Keeping these aquatic invasive species at bay and preventing clogging of intake lines helps provide low cost, reliable electricity rather than spending ratepayers’ money to control the species.
The Nebraska Invasive Species Program recommends all boaters clean, drain and dry.
Tips for preventing zebra mussels being introduced into Nebraska bodies of water are available through the Nebraska Invasive Species Program at neinvasives.com.