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Falls Park Visitors Notice Low Water

September 28, 2012, 5:52 PM by Shawn Neisteadt

Falls Park Visitors Notice Low Water

Visit just about any area up and down the Big Sioux River and you can see the water level is now just a fraction of what it once was.  In some areas the water looks like a trickling stream.  Timber once carried by the powerful current now sits deserted.

The stranglehold of the drought has also reduced the roar of the falls to a much quieter hum.  Yet the city's namesake remains a destination for those traveling through the area who say this low river isn't alone.

"They're low, they're low, it's everywhere," visitor James Winsky said.

This is Kansas resident James Winsky's first visit to the park.  His drive north showed him just how widespread the drought is. 

"The only real change I saw is the color of the trees.  It's already got to fall here and it's not quite that bad in Kansas," Winsky said.

"As I came across the Rockies, most of the water, the lakes, seem to be normal.  But as you get to this side of the Rocky Mountains, it doesn't seem to be that way.  It seems a lot drier over here than we're used to," visitor Bruce Speights said.

Speights is also making his first visit to Falls Park as he travels to Minnesota from California.  He was surprised to see just how low the water is here.

No matter where visitors are from or how much water is flowing through this area, almost anyone can agree that this park has a certain level of natural beauty.

"Absolutely beautiful; I can't even begin to describe, being from Kansas and to come here and see this, drought or no drought, it's still beautiful," Winsky said.

"Definitely still an impressive place. Definitely worth stopping and visiting and I think I would probably come back," Speights said.

But the bigger question is when will the regular flow of the river return?

Friday's flow of the Big Sioux River is at 30 cubic feet per second, measured by a gauge near Dell Rapids.  The city of Sioux Falls will put more water use restrictions in place if that number reaches 20 CFS. That number is usually around 70 this time of year.

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