You’re probably not thinking about public power as you water ski across Lake Maloney. Or reel in a beautiful rainbow trout at Lake Ogallala. Or bike the Kearney Canal Trail. Or camp at Sutherland State Recreation Area.
Nebraska Public Power District’s 63-mile Sutherland Project, built in the 1930s, provides water from the North and South Platte Rivers that is used for generating electricity, irrigation, ground water recharge and recreation. These reservoirs, lakes and canals are available for public use for biking, hiking, boating, camping, bird-watching, fishing, hunting and more. NPPD partners with the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission to operate the areas.
“When I’m on social media and I see photos of kids with grins from ear to ear, holding a fish or swimming with their families at one of the recreation sites we provide, that makes my day,” says Courtney Dentlinger, governmental affairs manager for NPPD.
NPPD is the sixth-largest public power utility in the country with reservoirs and canals that not only provide water for irrigation and recreation, but also for generating electricity at Gerald Gentleman Station and hydropower – a clean, renewable and environmentally friendly source of reliable power to customers across the state.
While water has always played a key role in electrical generation, NPPD makes irrigation water available through the Dawson County, Gothenburg and Kearney canals that help irrigate 45,000 acres of cropland in the Platte Valley, adding millions of dollars annually to the value of crops in those areas. In times of drought, stored water from reservoirs is crucial for Nebraska farmers.
Water moving through the Sutherland Project eventually returns to the Platte River where it is used by a variety of avian and aquatic species and wildlife, including sandhill cranes, which stop in the Platte River valley during their annual spring migration to vast breeding grounds in Canada, Alaska and Siberia.
“NPPD helps manage habitat for threatened and endangered species and is an active participant in the Platte River Recovery Implementation Program,” says Joe Citta, director of corporate environment and water resources. “It’s important that we are good stewards of the environment, which is one of our core values. Our 1,900 employees are focused on using our water resources responsibly and protecting the environment throughout our day-to-day operations.
“And we hope the public enjoys the fun in the sun at our public recreation facilities, too.”