I have sat here in the office today trying to decide what I should blog about. After answering phone calls and e-mails for most of the day, there is no question what is on everyone’s mind and what is likely going to be on our minds for the coming weeks–FLOODING. The water is high in the Platte and Missouri river drainages right now and is likely going to get higher and remain high for most of the summer. However, conditions can change quickly. I have several links where I monitor water levels on Nebraska rivers, streams and reservoirs. I know many of you may be aware of these links already, but in case you are not, here they are. . . .
Nebraska rivers and streams, http://waterdata.usgs.gov/ne/nwis/rt .
Bureau of Reclamation reservoirs including Calamus, Davis Creek, Box Butte, Enders, Harlan, Red Willow, Medicine Creek, Swanson, Merritt, Minatare and Winters Creek. This website also includes all of the reservoirs on the North Platte River in Wyoming, http://www.usbr.gov/gp/water/rflow.cfm .
Central Nebraska Public Power and Irrigation District reservoirs and canals including Lake McConaughy, Jeffrey, Johnson, and Elwood, http://www.cnppid.com/Elevation_Flows2.htm .
Nebraska Public Power District reservoirs and canals including Sutherland and Maloney, http://www.nppd.com/About_Us/Energy_Facilities/facilities/water_data.asp .
Sherman Reservoir, http://www.farwellid.com/sherman%20reservoir.html .
Current status and forecasts for the Missouri River reservoirs, http://www.nwd-mr.usace.army.mil/rcc/current.html .
In case the flooding has impacts on road conditions, and I know of at least one case where it has already, you might want to check the Nebraska Department of Roads “Advanced Traveler Information System”, http://www.511.nebraska.gov/atis/html/index.html .
I know there are folks who have already lost a lot in the flooding and there very well may be more loss in the coming weeks. That is hard and I feel for those folks.
There will be a lot of unknowns about how all of this flooding will affect fish populations in those waters. In some cases we will just have to wait until water levels recede and see what has happened. However, I will tell you this; flood events are natural functions of river habitats. Riverine species of fish often benefit from flood events and river habitats are often “re-charged” or “re-invigorated” by flood events. During high water events fish will be on the move both upstream and downstream. A year ago we had some high waters and I posted some thoughts then on the impact that might have, http://outdoornebraska.ne.gov/blogs/2010/06/flooding/ .
I just got this news release, might as well include it,
Missouri River Closed to Recreational Boating
LINCOLN, Neb. – Due to high water, the United States Coast Guard has closed the Missouri River along Nebraska to recreational boat traffic until further notice.
“The closure is due to floodwaters that put recreational boaters at risk,” said Nebraska Game and Parks Commission Boating Law Administrator Herb Angell. “The wash and wake caused by motorboats could cause additional damage to already flooded properties. Fast, deep water, loaded with debris has created a danger to boaters and public safety.”
The river is flooding in many places because of increased discharges at Gavins Point Dam. Exceptional rainfall in Montana and the spring runoff has filled the reservoirs upstream from Gavins Point, causing the need for increased discharges.
Boaters on the lower Platte River also should use caution, and Game and Parks recommends that air-boaters stay off that portion of the river.
Oh, and remember, we live on the Great Plains; given enough time we will have the opposite extreme, again.