Surface Water Watersheds


Everyone lives in a watershed. A watershed is the land area that contributes water to a location, usually a stream, pond, lake or river. Everything that we do on the surface of our watershed impacts the water quality of our streams, wetlands, ponds, lakes and rivers. What happens in one locality affects other downstream areas.

The North Platte River — Multi-use Water, Part 4

The Sierra Madre Mountain Range Snowpack in 2016. (Photo by Gary Stone)
Part 4 of a six-part series on the dams, reservoirs, power generation and some diversion dams located on the North Platte River. The series will follow a chronological order of the history and construction of these projects.

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The North Platte River — Multiuse Water, Part 3

Seminoe dam and reservoir were built in the 1930s, specifically to provide hydropower generation.
The first dam and reservoir on the North Platte River after it enters from Colorado is Seminoe. Seminoe dam is part of the Kendrick Project intended to generate hydropower and expand irrigation in central Wyoming. The project, called the Casper-Alcova Project, was authorized in 1933 under the National Recovery Act during the Great Depression. The project was renamed the Kendrick Project in 1937. The Kendrick Project also includes the Alcova dam, reservoir and the Casper-Alcova Canal.

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Budget woes lead to weather station closures

graphical representation of weather station locations (image credit:
Leading into the sixth year of appropriation shortfalls, Nebraska Mesonet weather stations that are not contracted specifically by clients are slotted for closure to cut costs and reduce labor overhead.

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The North Platte River — Multi-use Water, Part 2: The North Platte Project – Pathfinder, Guernsey and Whalen

Pathfinder dam, reservoir, and new spillway ogee weir.
When the Reclamation Act passed by Congress in 1902 and the United States Reclamation Service was created, studies were conducted to determine where water projects could be constructed. Initially, the Sweetwater River (Sweetwater Project) was considered to construct a dam at “Devils Gate” to provide irrigation water. However, insufficient flows in the river did not justify the construction of a dam. The Reclamation Service then determined that a dam would be constructed on the North Platte River in the Fremont Canyon approximately 47 miles southwest of Casper, Wyoming.

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The North Platte River — Multi-use Water, Part 1: The North Platte River Basin Projects — Background

Snow pack in the mountains of Wyoming. (Photo by Gary Stone)
The Platte River, then the North Platte River, and then the Sweetwater River were the series of water courses across Nebraska into Wyoming east of the continental divide for a pathway across the country that “followed the water.” This was the most traveled route across the continent for early trappers — the California, Mormon, Oregon, Overland and Pony Express trails. Over 400,000 people followed these trails to California, Oregon and Washington, bypassing the “Great American Desert”, not knowing that in the future — with irrigation water development — this area would be the breadbasket for the country.

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