Large Fish Kills Expected as Canal Ceases Diversion

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COLUMBUS – Due to concerns with rising fish deaths, Loup Power was granted a waiver to resume water diversion into the Loup Power Canal.

Loup Power President Neal Suess says the district was granted a temporary waiver Saturday afternoon to allow water to flow from the Loup River to the Loup Power Canal.

The release says the cease in water flow took place, because of a condition from the District’s new license order to operate the Loup hydroelectric facilities, which includes the canal and powerhouses at Columbus and Monroe.

The district says the order was issued on May 22nd by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, and it requires the cease of water diversion when the temperature is 93 degrees Farenheit or higher. The temperature is measured in Louisville.

On July 12th, the US Fish and Wildlife Service requested a suspension of the conditions, but the FERC did not agree to the suspension until Monday, says a press release.

“On Saturday, the District began bypassing water flow from the canal and powerhouses, allowing all water in the Loup River to be bypassed from the canal and powerhouses, allowing water to flow down the Loup River.  District officials were concerned about stagnating water in the canal and the potential for a large fish kill,” says the release.

“The District started to notice large populations of stressed fish that were beginning to die in the canal early this morning.  It is too early to determine how many fish died as a result of the stagnant water and the low dissolved oxygen levels in the water,” says the release.

The district says the temporary waiver allows the district to resume normal operations, which should also prevent any larger fish kills in the Loup Canal.

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COLUMBUS – Loup Power says large fish kills are expected with the district being forced to cease diversion of the Loup River into the Loup Power Canal.

The diversion ceased at 6:30 p.m. on Saturday near Genoa, according to a press release.

The release says the cease in water flow took place, because of a condition from the District’s new license order to operate the Loup hydroelectric facilities, which includes the canal and powerhouses at Columbus and Monroe.

The district says the order was issued on May 22nd by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, and it requires the cease of water diversion when the temperature is 93 degrees Farenheit or higher. The temperature is measured in Louisville.

“The District cannot restart diversion into the canal until the water temperature at that gage is below 93 degrees for a period of 72 consecutive hours. Given the recent hot temperatures in the area, and the forecast for continued above-average temperatures, the District is unsure of how long this cessation will last. The District is also unsure if this will be the only cessation this summer,” says Loup CEO and President Neal Suess.

The district is expecting large fish kills in the canal and potential use of the water in the canal may be limited, says the district.

An area resident reported to News Channel Nebraska Monday morning  dead fish are beginning to build up near Monroe.

“The new order, and the restrictions placed on the District for water flow into the canal by FERC and the USFWS, is an overreach of the federal government and a blatant disregard for a balancing of endangered species concerns, local wildlife and local agricultural interest,” Suess said. “ In addition, this could have a significant economic impact to local residents as the District will be unable to generate power for the needs of the people of the State of Nebraska.”

“The District has tried to discuss these concerns with the parties in the case, including FERC, the USFWS and the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission,” Suess said. “The District has also indicated the potentially devastating effects of the cessation of water flow restrictions and water flow cessation into the canal. Unfortunately, the drastic result of this cessation may finally be a reason to get all parties back in the room to develop a solution that balances the interest of all parties involved.”

News Channel Nebraska will continue to follow this developing story.

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