Loup shuts off water to canal; fish kill expected | Local News

COLUMBUS — Loup Public Power District expects to see a large fish kill after it was forced to shut off water flow into the Loup Power Canal.

According to a press release, the local electric utility stopped diverting water from the Loup River into the canal around 6:30 p.m. Saturday.

The move is a result of the conditions included in the utility’s updated license to operate its hydroelectric facilities, which include the canal and powerhouses near Columbus and Monroe.

That order, issued May 22 by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), states that the district is required to cease water diversion into the canal when the water temperature in the Platte River reaches 93 degrees at the Louisville gauge. This was part of the biological opinion submitted by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), which was incorporated into the license order from FERC.

Loup Power cannot restart diversion into the canal until the water temperature at Louisville drops below 93 degrees for 72 consecutive hours. With high temperatures in the 90s forecast through next week, the district is unsure how long it will be before water can be diverted into the canal again.

The utility expects large fish kills in the canal and the potential that water use may be limited for irrigation.

“We’re obviously really disappointed it got to this point,” said Loup President and CEO Neal Suess, who referred to the situation as a “worst-case scenario.”

Without water from the river flowing in, the canal will warm up and become stagnant, losing oxygen, according to Suess, who expects to see signs of stress in the fish population as early as Sunday. Loup employees will monitor the canal to identify any fish kills and take necessary action, he said.

“The new order, and the restrictions placed on the district for water flow into the canal by FERC and the…

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