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Fears Are Rising In Davis

April 19, 2011, 4:58 PM by Don Jorgensen

Fears Are Rising In Davis
DAVIS, SD - The flooding in northern KELOLAND could soon be impacting families who live farther south.

Lake Thompson is already two feet higher than the record mark set back in 1997. Senator John Thune toured the area and talked about finding a solution to drain some of the water that's flooding homes and roads.  Now that talk is stirring a flood of emotions downstream in the small town of Davis.

[Check the Vermillion River level at Davis]

Right now, Davis is surrounded by high water. The Vermillion River that runs west of town looks more like a lake. 

"The biggest concern right now is the release of water at Lake Thompson and the water that will push down on us will be devastating," Jeremy Wilcox said. 

Wilcox, who works at the grain elevator, says the talk of the town is what's going to happen to all the water at Lake Thompson. It drains into the Vermillion River. But Wilcox and many others fear if officials decide to increase the drainage out of the lake, Davis would be doomed.

"It would pretty much inundate us with water beyond what we could possibly deal with," Wilcox said.

Davis has flooded before. But people here say so far, they've been able to keep the town dry this year and would like to keep it that way. But hearing of plans to drain floodwaters out of Lake Thompson is raising their fears. 

"It would be catastrophic for the town.  That water has to come through Lake Vermillion.  It's practically going over the dam and it would raise the water levels of Lake Vermillion by two feet in 24 hours if they release it.  The way it's been discussed, our major concern would be would be would the dam go," Ron Nygaard said.

And that's why the rumors in Davis are running as rapid as the Vermillion.

"If the dam went at Vermillion, there would be no town of Davis left," Nygaard said. 

Kingsbury County Emergency Manager Cindy Bau says people downstream shouldn't worry. There are no plans to increase the drainage out of Lake Thompson short term. She says seven counties will be holding meetings in the coming weeks to look at the Upper Vermillion Watershed Study that was conducted in 1997 to come up with a long-term solution to lower water levels at Lake Thompson without impacting people's lives downstream.

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