Irrigators to Use Less from Lake Mac - KHGI-TV/KWNB-TV/KHGI-CD-Grand Island, Kearney, Hastings

Irrigators to Use Less from Lake Mac

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The Central Nebraska Public Power and Irrigation District's board of directors voted Monday to limit the amount of water farmers are allowed to pull from Lake McConaughy.

Farmers are being reduced to 10 inches of water per acre when normally, irrigation customers could expect up to 18 inches an acre over 12 weeks.

The decrease is due to the drought that has raised demand for irrigation water from district resources that include giant Lake McConaughy near Ogallala in western Nebraska. This extra demand, along with lower than normal inflows to the reservoir, has led to low storage levels at Lake McConaughy.

McConaughy ended the irrigation season at 53 percent of its normal capacity. Since Oct. 1 last year, inflows were about 750,000 acre-feet, compared with a historical average of 929,000 acre-feet.

Cory Steinke, civil engineer, says the district inflow projection for the coming water year of Oct. 1, 2012, through Sept. 30, 2013, is about 546,000 acre-feet.

The option approved by the board will include only minimum releases during the off-season to meet Federal Energy Regulatory Commission requirements; plans to use water already in the Supply Canal system to finish the 2013 irrigation season; ending all irrigation deliveries on Sept. 2, and no additional water for any water users, including those canals with supplemental storage contracts with Central.

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