from the Nebraska Department of Environment and Energy

For more information,contact
Brian McManus (402) 471-4223, or
Amanda Woita (402) 471-4243
For Immediate Release
September 16, 2009
issued jointly from the
Nebraska Department of Environmental Quality
and the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission

Improvements to Lake Ogallala planned for this fall

Starting in late September, visitors to Lake Ogallala will see some big changes taking place, including channelization work which will improve trout and other fish habitat. During this renovation period, (through late November, and resuming in February and March) water levels at the lake will be significantly lower, and recreational opportunities may be temporarily affected.

Historically, Lake Ogallala has been known as one of the state’s premier trout fisheries. Cold water releases from Lake McConaughy create conditions at Lake Ogallala that are beneficial for trout. However, changes in water quality and the lack of habitat due to the presence of rough fish have adversely affected the fishery.

Several projects will be taking place during the fall of 2009 to address some of these issues. Heavy equipment will be used to create a channel approximately 6,000 feet long intended to improve circulation and enhance habitat in the Keystone portion of the lake. At the same time, the fishery will be renovated to remove the undesirable fish species such as carp, white suckers and alewife. The lake will be lowered this fall to facilitate both of these projects.

The lake will be treated with the chemical rotenone, which does not allow the fish to transfer oxygen across the gills. Prior to the renovation, anglers are encouraged to harvest the fish using current legal methods. No salvage will be allowed during the application due to safety concerns. Fish killed due to the chemical application are not approved for human consumption.

Along with the changes to the lake and the fishery, Nebraska Public Power District and The Central Nebraska Public Power and Irrigation District will be taking advantage of the lower lake levels to make repairs to the Keystone Diversion gates and the Kingsley hydroelectric power plant.

During the project period, water levels will be kept to a minimum and access will be limited. This may impact some recreation opportunities such as fishing and waterfowl hunting. Lake levels may rise in late November, because renovation work will be suspended in December and January. However, water levels will likely drop again in February, depending on the progress of the improvements.

“This project is the result of collaboration between several agencies, and while there will be some short term inconveniences for sportsmen, the result will be a much improved Lake Ogallala,” said Dave Tunink, Assistant Fisheries Administrator for the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission.

Partners in these projects include the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission, Nebraska Department of Environmental Quality, Nebraska Public Power District and the Central Nebraska Public Power and Irrigation District, with funding coming from the Nebraska Environmental Trust Fund and the Environmental Protection Agency. Olsson Associates will be providing the technical assistance for the channelization project.

The work is anticipated to be completed in April 2010.

For more information, contact:
Patrick O’Brien, NDEQ/NARD Liaison, (402) 471-2219
Brian McManus, NDEQ Public Information Office, (402) 471-4223
Jim Bunstock, NDEQ Public Information Office (402) 471-4243
Dave Tunink, Game and Parks Commission, (402) 471-5553