Reclamation Temporarily Closes Road Across Red Willow Dam

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

For Release: November 06, 2009

The Bureau of Reclamation today announced that the road across Red Willow Dam will be temporarily closed beginning Saturday, Nov. 7, for a period of 10 to 14 days. Drill crews and engineers will be conducting exploratory drilling from the crest of the dam, and the area below the dam will also be limited from public access during this time.

Since last week, Reclamation has been releasing water from Hugh Butler Lake, which is impounded by Red Willow Dam. Releases are currently 350 cubic-feet-per-second, with no increases anticipated in the near future.

"As we continue to investigate and monitor the dam," said Aaron Thompson, Reclamation's Nebraska-Kansas Area Manager, "we are drawing down the reservoir at a rate of approximately a half-foot per day. We will continue releases for the next few weeks, and are prepared to lower the elevation to at least 2560 feet."

"These operations are in support of our investigations and to ensure the safety of our crews and the public," Thompson said. "I appreciate the cooperation and patience of our partners and public as we move forward with these activities."

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.

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