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Lake Thompson Residents Want Solutions

April 17, 2011, 9:33 PM by David Brown

Lake Thompson Residents Want Solutions
KINGSBURY COUNTY, SD - The persistent wet weather has done nothing but complicate things at Lake Thompson. The water's risen half an inch since Friday, and some people are concerned their way of life may be affected if they can't find better solutions.

For now, the water's relatively calm.  But looking around Lake Thompson, you can see ground level has a whole new meaning.

"My farm yard and my buildings are pretty much underwater," Lake Thompson resident Jerry Gruenhagen said. "They're not all in the water, but they're unusable for any cattle right now. So, we're having to haul our cows and calves to pasture right away."

Gruenhagen's lived on Lake Thompson for more than 50 years. He owns a campground on the lake that holds around 40 trailers. But the rising water's been bad for business.

"Something is blocked up," Gruenhagen said. "We need something done. I've never lost a campground before, but now, on my campground here, I've lost spots for about 14 trailers so far."

Gruenhagen says he encountered similar problems at the lake in 1997. Back then, he says officials were supposed to look into a solution to keep the levels down for good. Now, he says the lake's two feet above 1997 levels.

"We have to get some kind of a ditch or channel established to hold this lake," Gruenhagen said. "That way, when the lake gets full, it starts running. Right now, there's no way."

And with roads around the lake eroding, Gruenhagen hopes Kingsbury County and the state can find a way to keep things under control.

"I've never seen this lake this high," Gruenhagen said. "And I was never supposed to. This was supposed to be a 100-year flood. Now, this is the third 100-year flood."

Gruenhagen says he's written to local and national representatives about the problems at Lake Thompson.  Senator John Thune plans to meet residents at a De Smet coffee shop Monday to discuss the flooding damage.

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