South Dakota storms leave the Black Hills with higher water levels

Published: Apr. 16, 2019 at 6:54 PM CDT
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South Dakota's recent blizzards left behind some after effects affecting water levels in the Black Hills.

After all the water runoff, Rapid Creek is now three times above it's average water level. But still seven feet below the flood level, the extra water is a benefit rather than a problem.

"As the groundwater levels rise that just means that resource is being recharged. That resource is used heavily by the local communities as a drinking water source as well as a lot of the local farms and ranches in the area," said Dakota Water Science Center Director Joyce Williamson.

Williamson said though the storm in March caused flooding in areas like Pine Ridge because the ground was still frozen, it also helped fill up reservoirs like Pactola and Angostura and the Belle Fourche Dam.

But with April and May being the wettest months for the state, rain showers could change up the summer season.

"We're steep and mountainous so the water levels can change quickly as we get storms come through. So we need to kind of always be aware of that," Williamson said.

But more moisture in the spring could mean fewer wildfires in the summer.

It seems April showers will bring in May flowers as State Fire Meteorologist Darren Clabo says the moisture could perk up the agriculture business.

"Lead to spring time germination of all the different seeds of the flowering plants, grasses. It's a great thing for agriculture again, understanding the fact that we had some tough times for agriculture with these blizzards. But going forward once the flooding subsides, I think we will be in ok shape," Clabo said.

However, Clabo said we still need to be cautious about possible grass fires. He said there are still some dry and dead grasses from seasons prior that could ignite a big grass fires.

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