Big drink of water, half full
South Dakota State Roundup
Published September 1, 2006 | September 2006 issue
The signs of drought in South Dakota are everywhere. But none offers quite as stark a perspective as Lake Oahe, the state's biggest body of water.
When full, the 231-mile lake—the result of damming the Missouri River back in 1958—is the nation's fourth-largest man-made body of water. It normally holds 23 million acre-feet of water (an acre-foot is one foot of water over one acre). Today, it holds less than half that amount—just 11 million acre-feet, according to figures released by the Army Corps of Engineers.
At these levels, Lake Oahe is only four feet short of its record low set two years ago, and a full 43 feet below its record height of nine years ago.
—Ronald A. Wirtz