UNION COUNTY, S.D. (KCAU) — One of Siouxland’s favorite water destinations, McCook Lake, may be unusable to boaters for some of the spring season.
Leaders of the McCook Lake Association said the current water levels are the lowest they’ve seen in more than 20 years and that it may take some time before its depths are back to normal.
“Right now the river is ten feet lower than the lake. If there was ever a channel from here to the river it would just empty right out, so that’s pulling the lake down. It’s been historically low,” said McCook Lake Association President Dirk Lohry.
Dirk Lohry serves as president of the McCook Lake Association, whose task as a nonprofit organization is to be caretakers of the lake. That includes filling it up at the end of each March using a water pipeline from the Missouri River, but this spring the association ran into a challenge when the pump’s dispenser box broke off, breaking the pipe, and sending water out of the lake all over the shoreline.
“And so we had a disaster on our hands,” said Lohry.
For the sake of the lake, Lohry and other volunteers went to work, plotting out a new strategy so that they could return the water to an adequate level but not for an inexpensive cost.
“We decided to modify it and just have a single pipe coming out that’s pointing up in the air to reduce the amount of erosion we get. If we tried to put the pipe out straight, it would just eat a big ol’ canyon right down the middle and that ended up costing the association around $50,000,” Lohry said.
Lohry estimates the lake is currently six and a half feet below normal, which is why no boats were in the docks or the water on a beautiful spring day.
The modified pump has been pushing 12,000 gallons a minute for the last 10 days and with memorial day weekend circled as the date when the lake will be boat ready once again, he said this year’s refilling of the lake wouldn’t be possible without community support.
“I gotta thank the corporate sponsors that we got and all the little guys along the lake that use the lake, that have donated sometimes only $20 to up to thousands of dollars to be able to keep this lake open because it is a tremendous, wonderful recreational resource,” said Lohry.
Lohry expects the pumps to run all summer long and because of this, he said utility bills will be about three times higher than an average season.