Nebraska's Central District Limits 2014 Irrigation Allocations

Due to drought and lower storage water levels in Lake McConaughy, irrigators will get only 9 acre-inches.

Published on: Sep 16, 2013

Irrigation customers of the Central Nebraska Public Power and Irrigation District will be limited to 9 inches of water per acre in 2014. That surface water will be delivered over an 8-week or 12-week irrigation season, depending on the customer's choice. The district, the largest surface water project in Nebraska, primarily provides water within Gosper, Phelps and Kearney counties.

The Central District board of directors approved the resolution at an August meeting to set the 2014 water allocations, says Mike Drain, the district's natural resources manager. "The decision was based on current drought conditions, stream-flow depletions and low inflows into Lake McConaughy, which have reduced the amount of water in storage at the reservoir," he says.

Nebraskas Central District Limits 2014 Irrigation Allocations
Nebraska's Central District Limits 2014 Irrigation Allocations

Deliveries will begin on June 9 and end on Sept. 1. Irrigation customers normally can receive up to 18 inches per acre, although customers were allotted only 10 inches per acre during the 2013 season, according to Drain.

Drain also says that Central staff will seek a waiver from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service that would allow lower minimum water diversion requirements during the non-irrigation season to enhance storage in Lake McConaughy.

Also during the August meeting, Don Knaus, the district's general manager, Don Kraus announced that Central has received notice to proceed with the pre-construction stage for construction of the J-2 Regulating Reservoirs. This includes permitting, design, engineering and land acquisition. (See our story on the regulating reservoirs in the September Nebraska Farmer, page 108.)

Central Civil Engineer Cory Steinke says that Lake McConaughy was expected to decline one or two more feet during September when irrigation diversions by all irrigation canals end.  Central closed the headgates of its irrigation canals on Sept. 2. Inflows to Lake McConaughy were in the 300-cubic-feet-per-second range, or about 37% at that time.

Source: Central Nebraska Public Power and Irrigation District