Platte River Running Dry

June 14, 2004

Choked by a fifth year of drought, the Platte River is vanishing earlier this year than normal, dropping Lake McConaughy to its lowest level ever and forcing farmers to scrounge for water, the Lincoln Journal Star reported.

The Platte registerd zero flows at the Grand Island gauge all last week, according to U.S. Geological Survey. By comparison, the Platte’s average flow for this time of year is 2,095 cubic feet per second.

Farmers who usually rely on Platte River water are being forced to tap into groundwater sources at a cost of $70 per acre foot, the Lincoln Journal Star reported. It’s a high price to pay, but in many cases it is the only option available.

Flows into Lake McConaughy also have been far below normal. Typical June flows into the state’s largest reservoir average 1,200 to 13,00 cubic feet per second. Last week, they measured 80 to 90 cfs.

"It's very disturbing," said Tim Anderson, spokesman for the Central Nebraska Public Power and Irrigation District, which owns and operates the reservoir. "Unless we get some real good rains in June, July and August, the lake will be very, very low," he said.

Source: Lincoln Journal Star

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