Platte-Republican diversion project study expected by Christmas

Platte-Republican diversion project study expected by Christmas

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

HOLDREGE — Officials of the Tri-Basin and Lower Republican natural resources districts hope to have results of a Platte-Republican diversion project feasibility study in hand by Christmas.

“I’m hoping to get that in the next week to 10 days,” General Manager John Thorburn said at Tuesday’s Tri-Basin board meeting in Holdrege.

He added that representatives of the study firm, Olsson Associates, told him they would deliver their findings by Christmas.

The proposal is to transport high Platte River flows, when available, through the Central Nebraska Public Power and Irrigation District’s E65 Canal and into TurkeyCreek near Smithfield. The water would be carried by the creek for about 25 miles through Gosper and Furnas counties to the Republican River for compact compliance.

Meanwhile, cold weather is affecting use of an ongoing project to divert excess Platte flows into the E65 Canal and Elwood Reservoir for groundwater recharge benefiting both basins.

CNPPID Irrigation Division Director Dave Ford told the Tri-Basin board that diversions started Friday after having been delayed by construction of a box culvert to replace a bridge over the canal.

“Things are starting to freeze up,” Ford said, including pumps used to put diverted water into the reservoir. He said the pumps started having icing problems Saturday and had to be shut down Tuesday morning.

Also Tuesday, the Tri-Basin directors approved line-item adjustments in the budget to allow payment of $1,500 in dues to a groundwater management coalition.

Thorburn explained that the coalition was formed years ago as a “mutual defense group” when there is a lawsuit filed against one NRD that might affect other districts. He said coalition members are considering intervening in one current case.

Lincoln attorney Don Blankenau is the coalition’s legal counsel.

The Tri-Basin board’s executive committee plans to schedule interviews for next week with two applicants to fill a Subdistrict 3 vacancy on the board. Subdistrict 3 includes southeast Phelps County and an area around Axtell in Kearney County.

Ray Winz of Holdrege, who has been a director since Jan. 1, 1993, did not seek re-election, and no one filed for election. So, the NRD requested letters from people interested in being appointed to fill the vacancy.

The applicants are Michael Winz of Holdrege, Ray Winz’s grandson, and Larry Landstrom of Axtell.

Thorburn told the Hub an appointment will be for two years and then the new director must decide whether to seek election in 2018 for a four-year term.

In other business, the board:

- Was told the agenda is being completed for the annual Holdrege Water Conference on Jan. 31 at the Phelps County Ag Center.

- Was reminded that stakeholders meetings for integrated water management plans will be Jan. 17 in Cambridge for the Republican Basin and Jan. 18 in North Platte for the Platte Basin.

- Named Directors Dave Raffety of Kearney and Larry Reynolds of Lexington as delegate and alternate, respectively, for the Nebraska Association of Resources Districts Legislative Conference Jan. 24-25 in Lincoln.

- Authorized paying costs for up to three directors to attend the Groundwater Management Districts Association Conference Jan. 9-11 in Fort Worth, Texas.

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