Elwood & Resort-Reservoir News
By LORI POTTER Hub Staff writer | Posted: Tuesday, March 4, 2014 12:00 pm
HOLDREGE — The J-2 Regulating Reservoirs project in northern Phelps and Gosper counties is progressing from a proposal to a plan.
However, the many steps still ahead before possible construction in 2017 include getting permits, conducting public information meetings and hearings, land acquisition, final designs, and a final vote by the Central Nebraska Public Power and Irrigation District board.
“We are proceeding right now on the assumption that it will be built,” CNPPID Natural Resources Manager Mike Drain said at Monday morning’s board meeting.
CNPPID will own and operate the $75 million project downstream of its J-2 hydropower plant and along the Phelps irrigation canal that would carry water to the reservoirs. Helping pay the costs and sharing the benefits are the Platte River Recovery Implementation Program, the state, and Tri-Basin, Central Platte and Twin Platte natural resources districts.
A new CNPPID brochure describing the project was distributed at Monday afternoon’s Central Water Users annual meeting, at which Platte Program Executive Director Jerry Kenny and CNPPID Civil Engineer Cory Steinke described the reservoirs’ design features and uses.
Gary Robison of Bertrand quoted from the brochure at the board meeting while asking many questions, including where water would come from to fill the J-2 reservoirs.
CNPPID General Manager Don Kraus said it will be the same water that now flows through the hydropower plants and irrigation system. “There is no increase or decrease. ... The difference would be the timing of the release” to the river, he said.
Drain said having reservoirs to hold water and release it later would allow Central to operate the J-2 hydro more efficiently. “We will get more total electricity from the same water,” he added.
“It won’t hurt irrigation, and it won’t really help irrigation,” Kraus said.
The reservoirs could hold and later release excess water that runs off from big rains or is diverted from the river in times of high flows, as was done last fall with floodwaters from the South Platte.
Kraus said the added storage could allow CNPPID to maintain higher summer water levels in Johnson Lake.
Water could be held in the J-2 reservoirs when target river flows for habitat used by threatened or endangered wildlife — whooping cranes, least terns and piping plovers — are met or exceeded, and released later when more water is needed.
Kenny called the reservoirs “the bucket” needed to store the water.
He said Platte Program interests in the project include getting help to offset 130,000-150,000 a-f of new depletions in the Platte Basin since July 1, 1997, and having water available for short-duration high river flows used to test the value of habitat-related projects.
Kenny said the program’s share of an estimated 30,000 a-f annual yield to the river from the J-2 reservoirs would be a big chunk of the 50,000-70,000 a-f of offsets still needed.
River credits going to the state Department of Natural Resources and three NRDs would help meet their required offsets for past river depletions related to groundwater use.
Tri-Basin NRD General Manager John Thorburn said at the Central board meeting that alternatives to participating river augmentation projects are limiting irrigation pumping or reducing irrigated acres, which would cause more economic damage.
“We have a lot of different ways to make up depletions to streamflows,” Thorburn said. “This (J-2 reservoirs) just happens to be the most cost-effective at this time.”
There will be effects on people living on or near the planned 1,000-acre construction site. Some roads will be closed or re-routed, and Steinke told the Hub several residences will be involved, including three within the reservoir footprint.
Robison asked CNPPID officials if land acquisition will follow the Platte Program’s willing-seller rules. Drain replied that, as a public entity, “We believe this district is not constrained by that” and has not ruled out using eminent domain.
Public Relations Coordinator Jeff Buettner later told the Hub that eminent domain would be district officials’ last choice.
Darryl Mattson of Bertrand asked Kenny who would make up the difference in real estate taxes for local subdivisions if farmland is taken out of production for the reservoirs. Kenny said that while the Platte Program pays taxes on its habitat land under a philosophy of not shifting tax burdens, CNPPID will own the J-2 reservoirs.
Buettner said the tax issue has been discussed, but not resolved.
There also were questions about potential seepage affecting area properties, including the Plum Creek Massacre historical site.
Steinke said the reservoirs would have packed clay liners, drains and soil cement protection on the berms to prevent erosion. Also part of the design are groundwater monitoring wells around the site.
“We’re not going to let these projects have impacts on other land,” Steinke said.
Larry Reynolds of Lexington asked why the river’s Jeffrey Island, for which CNPPID has a long-term lease to own, wasn’t considered as a reservoir site instead of farmland.
Kenny said the concept was examined, but it would have been tough to get the water for storage to the island. Attention turned to the current location “where gravity works to our advantage,” he said.
Central and Platte Program officials also are completing an agreement for a groundwater recharge project in the same area. During non-irrigation season, available water can be put into the Phelps Canal, seep into groundwater and enhance streamflows.
Kenny said the projects reflect the future potential for Central customers to have “a new cash crop of leasing water.”
Check out the website for the current information on
Elwood Resort and Campground located at the Elwood
Reservoir; which is currently being filled for the 2010
Irrigation Season. http://www.elwoodcampground.com
or email: firstname.lastname@example.org for your
reservations or additional information. Ph: 308-440-4993
Just 5 short miles south of Johnson Lake on Highway 283...
By LORI POTTER Hub Staff Writer, Thursday, Feb. 11, 2010; Kearney Hub on line at http://www.kearneyhub.com
HOLDREGE — Platte River water will start gravity flowing into Elwood Reservoir Monday, and Central Nebraska Public Power and Irrigation District officials plan to have it nearly full by June 1.
CNPPID Irrigation Division Manager Dave Ford told the Tri-Basin Natural Resources District directors Tuesday that pumps likely will be turned on March 1 to finish filling the reservoir.
Tri-Basin officials’ primary interest is that a full lake produces more groundwater recharge benefits for the Republican and Platte basins.
Central irrigators will see a full water supply — base of 15 inches per acre and limit of 18 inches — and full-length irrigation season in 2010 for the first time in six years. It’s also the first time in years that Elwood Reservoir has been needed for irrigation water deliveries.
Ford said the reservoir probably will go down 34 feet to 35 feet over the summer, but it has been much lower in recent years to the point of requiring additional riprap to protect the face of the dam.
The CNPPID irrigation delivery schedule runs from June 8-Aug. 31.
Ford reminded the Tri-Basin directors that Monday’s annual Central Water Users meeting at the Super 8 in Holdrege will start with a noon lunch and include presentations by state Sen. Tom Carlson of Holdrege, CNPPID General Manager Don Kraus and Civil Engineer Cory Steinke, and a CWU business meeting.
Meanwhile, he said Lake McConaughy now holds 1.1 million acre-feet of water, which is 63 percent of full and 300,000 a-f more than at this time last year. The lake also is 14½ feet higher.
Ford also reported that a seepage concern at the Johnson Lake dam continues to be monitored, but it’s still believed to be the result of melting from a mile-long snowdrift, not a leak. “The ground is saturated and it just won’t take any more (water),” he said.
Published: Friday, November 27, 2009 2:15 PM CST
ELWOOD – The end may be in sight for Elwood Reservoir’s hard times.
The hard times began with the drought that in 2000, but Central Nebraska Public Power and Irrigation District water is returning the reservoir to a full pool in 2010, and thousands of fish have been stocked there.
John Thorburn, general manager of Tri-Basin Natural Resources District, said his district and Nebraska Game and Parks Commission agreed to pay Central $115,532 to cover the cost of hydropower revenue Central will lose by diverting flow from its hydro system below Johnson Lake.
Thorburn said Tri-Basin’s interest is to replenish underground recharge that diminished in the Republican Valley watershed after the reservoir’s water level dropped.
“This is a win-win situation for Game and Parks, Central, and the people who will be able to fish at the reservoir again,” Thorburn said,
Central Water Manager Corey Steinke said the level of the reservoir was raised 20 feet in October using gravity flow from the supply canal at Johnson Lake. Direct pumping begins March 1.
Central Information Director Jeff Buettner said at full pool, the reservoir will have 40,000 acre-feet of water.
Fingerling-size fish have been stocked in the reservoir. Daryl Bauer, program manager for fisheries outreach for Game and Parks, said the intention is to see the reservoir become the recreation spot as it once was.
Bauer said almost 90,000 yellow perch, channel catfish, walleye and wiper fingerlings were stocked this year. Walleye led the stocking with 57,460 in June.
Published: Monday, November 30, 2009 9:26 AM CST
ELWOOD - New owner Brian Rae, a Kearney businessman, has renamed the former The Reverie at Elwood Reservoir as Elwood Resort and Campground.
The caf, bar and former bait shop were built at the east end of Elwood Reservoir 20 years ago. Rae purchased the property in August.
"I've always wanted to own a fishing and hunting resort. This is a dream that's come true," Rae said.
"I'm very excited about this opportunity to be a host to fishermen and hunters. Elwood is one of the best-kept secrets for fishing in Nebraska, and the amount of game for hunters is unbelievable. There are deer, pheasants and quail, and turkeys wander into our parking lot."
He is extensively remodeling the kitchen and bar, has rebuilt exterior walls, replaced roofs, re-wired part of the main building, installed new equipment for the caf and is finishing off the main building with imitation pine logs for a rustic appearance.
The property has a two-story motel with seven rooms and several mobile homes available for rent. Rae plans to add to his rental stock with two or three more mobile homes.
Rae plans on moving a modular home onto the property for his family. His wife, Jinny, has been a nurse at Tyson Fresh Meats Inc. in Lexington for three years. They have two sons.
"I'm going to have a limited amount of fishing tackle, but I'll have night crawlers and leeches and a live well for minnows," Rae said.
"I want people who come here to have a good experience. If someone comes in off the water at night and needs a hamburger, I'll get up and fix it for them."