27 April 2015

OPPD Powerline Management at Mandan Flats

The following details were received from the Omaha Public Power District on April 22nd, in response to a request for information. An initial meeting to discuss this situation occurred on April 6th. Information was received from Paula Lukowski. The Corps of Engineers had been contacted on this in regards to any potential impact on wetlands at the site. Based upon the action to be taken by OPPD, the federal agency ruled there not be any adverse effects. In addition, both the Omaha Parks Recreation and Public Property department and Omaha Public Works were contacted via email and asked what management options pertain to the site. They did not send any reply. The Nebraska Office of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service was also sent emails as they are responsible for enforcement of the Migratory Bird Treaty Act as it would pertain to nests and eggs in the vegetation. They also did not responsd so were worthless in providing any assistance.

"This spring, OPPD is conducting vegetation management work in an area east of Mandan Park along a 161-kilovolt transmission line.

OPPD’s Vegetation Management Program controls vegetation growth within transmission line right-of-ways to maintain the safe and reliable operation of the electric transmission system. The goal is to return each corridor to its historic maintained condition.

The area is adjacent to the city of Omaha’s sewage treatment plant on land owned primarily by the city. At the site, the utility is taking steps to ensure the work has minimal adverse impact on the environment.

With more than 1,200 miles of metropolitan and rural transmission right-of-ways in southeast Nebraska, OPPD follows a three-year cycle. This ensures that one third of all the lines get maintenance each year to keep the lines clear and minimize impact on the environment. Federal, regional and electric industry regulations and standards require minimum safety clearances to ensure vegetation does not come into contact with high-voltage overhead transmission lines.

If vegetation located in a transmission right-of-way is not compatible with the safe operation of the system, it can result in widespread electric power outages and/or unsafe conditions for the public.

These maintenance activities are necessary to provide safe and reliable service to all customers within and outside OPPD’s service territory. OPPD uses certified contractors to do the work, and this maintenance work follows guidelines in the OPPD Avian Protection Plan, created in 2008.

The following work is being done at the Mandan Flats area:

  • Remove woody vegetation (located within the wire zone) that has sprouted since the last maintenance cycle in 2012.
  • Prune trees along the established corridor to secure clearances from electrical conductors, taking sag and sway of the transmission line into consideration.
  • Manually trim trees and remove brush using chainsaws; no mechanized equipment or vehicles will be utilized to perform this maintenance work.
  • Remove, chip and haul away all debris from trimming and removal of vegetation

The project does not require mechanized land clearing, and the vegetation maintenance activities will not cause any soil disturbance."

April 6, 2015 at the north end of Mandan Flats, looking southward at the powerline corridor. Photograph by James E. Ducey

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