10 April 2014

Omaha Public Works and Carter Lake Pumping

The following email was received April 8th.

I checked with our staff and the ideal lake level, as agreed to by Omaha and Carter Lake is at elevation 970.3'. As you know, the staff gauge for the Lake is currently above water, indicating an elevation below 968', and we estimate that it is probably around 966'.

By contrast, the river elevation is currently even lower, at about 962'. This low river elevation is likely the main driver behind the low lake level, and is expected to remain low for at least the next week or so. Absent a very heavy localized rainfall, it is unlikely that we will see any significant change in lake level until navigation season on the river starts.

With regard to the lake pumping system, I was reminded by our staff that the pumping system was actually designed to provided only about as much water as is necessary to replace summertime evaporative losses. In other words, it's not like turning on the faucet to fill a bathtub, it more like trying to fill an olympic swimming pool with a garden hose. Baiscaly the pumping is likely to only keep the lake at its present level.

However, please help us keep an eye on the lake level between now and April 15. If we can document any significant increase, I will reconsider suspending pumping.

Marty Grate, Environmental Services Manager
Omaha Public Works Department

This was the reply sent to Mr. Grate.

Thanks for the response. I missed one essential word among the text. You did not mention birds at all, and they are the sole reason for birders to prefer a lesser water level.

I realize public works pays attention to birds associated with tree clearing and the CSO! project, but when will birds be given equal value in regards to management of water levels at Carter lake.

Myself and others would prefer that lake levels be kept below 968 every year until April 15th. Though to get that to happen would seem to be an onerous task.

Also, the optimum lake level of 970.3 was agreed upon by officials of the City of Omaha and City of Carter Lake. There has been no public agreement on this that I am aware of?