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Big Lake Mac: Two-thirds fullTell North Platte what you think

Civil engineer Cory Steinke reported that river inflows to Lake McConaughy are about 75 percent of normal for this time of year.

The reservoir was at elevation 3,242.6 feet on Monday morning, April 1 -- 65.7 percent of capacity.

Steinke tod the board of directors of the Central Public Power and Irrigation District that snowpack accumulation in the upper North Platte River basin is 79 percent of average, 67 percent in the lower North Platte basin, and 83 percent in the South Platte River basin.

He also reported that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, in coordination with the Platte River Recovery Implementation Program, is planning to release "short duration medium flows," from Lake McConaughy into the Platte River for 14 days beginning Tuesday, April 2.

The water releases are intended to benefit threatened and endangered species -- specifically habitat for whooping cranes, least terns and piping plovers -- in the central Platte River area.

The water will be released from a reserved "environmental account" of water stored in Lake McConaughy.

The releases should bring the peak flows in the Platte River near Overton to around 4,000 cubic feet per second, Steinke said.

Also, Central Irrigation Division Manager Dave Ford reported that pumping water into Elwood Reservoir will begin this week in preparation for the coming irrigation season. Pumping should continue through May.

Central plans to utilize the reservoir to supplement irrigation deliveries from the E65 Canal, but because of allocation of irrigation water this summer, the reservoir will not be filled completely, Ford said.

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The North Platte Bulletin - Published 4/1/2013
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