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Low risk of severe flooding for James River

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News Mitchell,South Dakota 57301
The Daily Republic
Low risk of severe flooding for James River
Mitchell South Dakota 120 South Lawler 57301

HURON — The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers does not expect severe flooding in the James River Valley this year.

That was the information presented Thursday to the board of directors of the James River Water Development District at a meeting in Huron.


"There's just not a lot of snow pack up north for that," said Mitchell JRWDD representative Dan Koupal. "It doesn't look like we're going to get a lot of flooding unless we have a big rain event."

Considering the seemingly annual battle that landowners in the valley have waged against the water, the news is welcomed.

"That's good news for a lot of our farmers along that river," Koupal said. "They've gone through a lot with flooding in the past."

Water readings are low for now at recording points along the river. As of 3 p.m. Thursday, the James River near Mitchell was recorded at 10.72 feet. Flood stage is 17 feet. The river was at 5.98 feet at Forestburg, where flood stage is 12 feet.

Heightened concern has carried throughout the state and to Washington. On Wednesday, members from South Dakota's congressional delegation asked corps leaders to detail how they're managing the reservoirs along the Missouri River to limit a flood threat, especially given that April, May and June are historically wet months in the river basin.

Koupal said the board also approved a funding request from a Hutchinson County landowner from Menno to repair a pair of small, privately owned dams each about a mile from the James River. One of the dams will be repaired and the other will be replaced outright. He said the JRWDD usually contributes to 50 percent of the cost for dam repairs and the district's share was $19,500 for both dam upgrades.

"Any sort of repairs that you can make in that southern end of the Jim River Valley is helpful," said Carol Millan, who represents all of Hanson County, most of Davison County and parts of Aurora and Hutchinson counties. "That will help a lot of people."

JRWDD also heard an informational update about the formation of the Wolf Creek Watershed District, which would include parts of McCook County and Hutchinson County. Millan and Koupal said the formation of the district is its early stages and that if successfully formed, the new district could apply for grant money at a later date.

The group's next meeting will be held May 8 in Mitchell.