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April 19, 2011 09:52 PM

Big Sioux River Rising


The water is roaring and rushing at the diversion channel spillway near Minnesota Avenue in Sioux Falls. The channel is one tool the city has for fighting major flooding, and this spring, the channel is getting a good workout.

"It is nice to have it.  It provides more of a straight shot to get that water through the system and around the city," Sioux Falls Drainage Engineer Andy Berg said.

But that doesn't mean city officials aren't keeping an eye on the river. Especially because this week's wet weather has started to push the Big Sioux back up.

Right now, its expected the Big Sioux River is going to rise about one more foot before cresting in a couple of days. But that will be three feet less than where it peaked last month.

"The sloughs are full, the ditches are full, so any rain we get does bounce the river back up, but nowhere near the events we were looking at earlier in the spring," Berg said. 

Berg says with so much water still running in the river, there are two gates open at the diversion dam, sending water around and through the city in two routes. And as much as this rain is unpleasant, it could have been devastation weeks ago.

"That's why it was nice to have a melt in the southern half of the state before the northern half melted so we could get a lot of that flow out of here before the Watertown melt came through," Berg said. 

Even though the major threat of flooding has subsided, city officials will continue to keep an eye on the water.

Berg says the growing concern now for Sioux Falls homeowners is basement flooding from the high groundwater table. He reminds owners to check their sump pumps frequently and make sure they discharge them properly.

[Sioux Falls Area USGS Streamflow Information]
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