Key Partners

City of Columbus, Platte County, Christopher’s Cove Homeowners Association, Archer Daniels Midland (ADM)


The Project will mitigate declining groundwater levels in the area using diverted water from the Loup Power Tailrace Canal to be dispersed for groundwater recharge at the abandoned Lost Creek channel and the former gravel pit now known as Christopher’s Cove.


The Lower Loup NRD had observed area water levels near Columbus were falling from 2010 to 2014. That was having impacts on area irrigation, commercial and municipal wells. The NRD is charged with maintaining water resources and, rather than utilizing regulatory authority over area water users, the NRD opted for a recharge project to augment groundwater back into the area. The NRD conducted a multi-year study starting in 2014 to determine a water budget for the area, to characterize the geology and hydrology within the study area, and to evaluate possible solutions for providing recharge to the area based on the availability of various water sources.


The Lower Loup NRD secured grant funding from two sources; the Nebraska Water Sustainability Fund, managed by the state’s Department of Natural Resources, and the United States Bureau of Reclamation’s Drought Resiliency Grant.


The project includes installing a pipeline east to west from the Loup Power Tailrace Canal to the abandoned Lost Creek channel on the southside of 8th street. An additional pipeline will go from a shallow well adjacent to the abandoned Lost Creek channel, north to Christopher’s Cove. Canal water will be diverted to the Lost Creek channel during times of drought and released into the existing channel and the shallow well will capture a portion of the recharge water from the channel and divert it up to Christopher’s Cove. Lost Creek originally flowed through this area, but was diverted into the Loup Power Tailrace Canal south of the Columbus Powerhouse in order to alleviate flooding issues north of Columbus. Infiltrated groundwater is being used for the Christopher’s Cove portion instead of Tailrace Water to avoid the potential introduction of invasive or undesirable aquatic species. In anticipation of this work, the Lost Creek Channel has been broken up and vegetation has been removed to allow for maximum infiltration.  The NRD has installed a series of shallow monitoring wells outfitted with real-time water level measuring devices that are accessible through the public website. Similar equipment is being used to monitor the lake levels in Christopher’s Cove. This monitoring equipment is in place as part of a robust monitoring plan to ensure that no damages occur to third parties in the area as a result of operating the system. The benefit of this systems’ setup is that operation can occur only in times of most need and the project is not dependent on the availability of excess precipitation. The project also can be shutdown to allow for forecasted heavy rains. This project has been showcased as a novel idea to keep water in-state and exemplifies a variety of partnerships and interests coming together for the common goal of preservation of the resource. 



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