Hot, dry weather has significantly increased irrigation demand throughout the Platte River basin and more water is being released from big Lake McConaughy to meet demand, Civil Engineer Cory Steinke told the board of directors of the Central Public Power and Irrigation District Monday.
The lake’s water level has fallen nearly a foot-and-a-half each week. If it stays dry, the reservoir could be about 20 feet below its spring peak by the end of irrigation season in August, Steinke said.
Steinke said river flows into the lake have been below normal since March and less than half of the historical norm for a month.
That is a significant drop-off since a year ago, Steinke said.
"We had expected better contributions from return flows to the river based on the amount of water in the North Platte River last year. That didn't happen,” he said.