Flood waters need to be caputured
By Russ Pankonin, The Imperial Republican
In the past five years, the Platte River has hit flood stage three times—in 2011, 2013, and now again in 2015. The biggest shame of those events is that most of that water never gets put to any beneficial use and instead, ends up in the Gulf of Mexico.
In 2011 and 2013, the Nebraska Department of Natural Resources, in cooperation with The Central Nebraska Public Power and Irrigation District, allowed the diversion of flood waters into Central’s canals and reservoirs.
In 2013, the flood waters came down the South Platte after Central’s surface water irrigation season was over. As a result, they were able to fill their canals and reservoirs for the purpose of groundwater recharge, which benefitted both the Platte and Republican River Basins.
In 2013, they were able to divert about 10 percent of the flood waters at North Platte, putting that water to good use. They are presently diverting water from the Platte now to help fill Elwood Reservoir, in order to boost groundwater recharge in both basins.
It’s noteworthy to see that some of the flood water gets put to use in Nebraska. But as a state, we could still do much better.
One of the goals of former state senator Mark Christensen was to get water diverted into the Republican Basin during Platte River floods. While it hasn’t occurred, the potential for diversion into the Republican Basin still exists.
It makes little sense to see these flood waters pass through our state without getting some benefit. Diverting water from the river could potentially lessen the flood damage that occurs downstream.
It’s time for state and the people and entities in both the Platte and Republican River basins to work together to find a way to use flood waters that would benefit both basins.
What good is this flood water to Nebraska when we just let it flow right across our border and eventually into the Gulf of Mexico? It’s time for common sense to prevail so we’re prepared to take advantage of the next time the Platte floods.