Even though irrigation season is over, the canals around Johnson Lake and Elwood Reservoir are full again.
Central Nebraska Public Power and Irrigation District (CNPPID) officials say they're letting floodwater go into Johnson and Elwood so it doesn't cause as much damage down the Platte River.
"We're taking as much as we can, dealing with the debris that's in the river as best we can, trying to take as much of that out before it gets into our supply canal as we can," says CNPPID Public Relations Coordinator Jeff Buettner.
USGS survey records say the South Platte River at Roscoe usually flows gently, but when flooding began, jumped to a pace of 20,000 cubic feet per second. CNPPID is taking about 2,000 cfs out of the Platte right now, starting east of the city of North Platte. The Nebraska Public Power District (NPPD) says they're taking 100-200 cfs from the South Platte River at the city of North Platte's request and diverting it into their Sutherland canal system. Their canals have the capacity to take 800 cfs, but NPPD worried taking too much would damage their infrastructure.
Officials say it's a small percentage of the total water that's coming down river, but they hope every bit helps.
"It's a helpful part, but doesn't exactly resolve the entire problem," says NPPD Media Specialist Mark Becker. "We were asked and we were able to manage to do that."
"When you're talking about 20,000 cubic feet per second and we're able to take off 2,000 cubic feet per second, that may not sound like much, but that may make a little bit of difference downstream," says Buettner.
CNPPID says they expect Johnson Lake to fill a lot faster than Elwood Reservoir because of the way their canals are set up, but with the amount of water that's coming down the river, they still think Elwood could rise as much as 8 feet before the flooding is past.
Canal and dam maintenance planned by both groups will have to be delayed, but holding the water has benefits too.
"We're able to find somewhat of a silver lining by using some of this excess flow for groundwater recharge and for recreational benefits at Elwood Reservoir," says Buettner.
When the flooding has subsided, both groups say they'll release the stored water back into the river, but at a much slower pace.