Reclamation Modifies Operations at Red Willow Dam, Establishes Public Information Portal

Media Contact: Marvin Swanda, (308) 345-1027
Terri Salter, (308) 389-5306

For Release: October 30, 2009

The Bureau of Reclamation today announced releases from Red Willow Dam in support of anticipated repair-work and investigations related to a small hole discovered the week of Oct. 19 by maintenance crews. Engineers are currently examining the facility, and sand and gravel are being stored at the site for use as filter material and to backfill excavations.

"We currently have crews monitoring and inspecting the dam," said Aaron Thompson, Reclamation's Nebraska-Kansas Area Manager. "To support these investigations we will be adjusting our operations by making water releases from the reservoir beginning today."

Thompson said that as a precaution, local emergency managers are being kept apprised of the situation, and Reclamation has established a Web page at to provide the public with the most up-to-date information available. Users can register at Reclamation's site to receive automatic email or text updates as new information becomes available.

"We continue to gather data on the situation and monitor the site," Thompson said. "We will keep people informed as we move forward with our investigations and determine a plan of action based on those results. I encourage anyone interested to go to our Web site for the most up-to-date information."

Red Willow Dam, located on Red Willow Creek about 11 miles north of McCook, is an earthfill embankment with a structural height of 126 feet that forms a reservoir of 85,070 acre-feet. An ungated concrete spillway is located in the right abutment. An outlet works through the base of the dam provides for river and irrigation releases for downstream diversions. The reservoir behind this dam is Hugh Butler Lake.

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Reclamation is the largest wholesale water supplier and the second largest producer of hydroelectric power in the United States, with operations and facilities in the 17 Western States. Its facilities also provide substantial flood control, recreation, and fish and wildlife benefits. Visit our website at and follow us on Twitter @USBR.

Relevant Link:

Nebraska-Kansas Area Office Home Page