McCook Lake is Drying Up

(McCook Lake, SD) Home owners on McCook Lake now have beach front property thanks to the drought of 2012.

It's a stark difference from just two years ago when water levels were well above normal because of the flood. Now people are wondering whether the lake could dry up.

The McCook Lake Association pumps water from the Missouri River into the lake so it's highly dependent on the river levels.

Which is why getting things back to normal is important.

"That dock is usually about a foot above the normal water level and obliviously right now it's quite a bit lower than that," says Dirk Lohry, Vice President of Financing for the McCook Lake Association.

McCook Lake is only about 4 feet deep - half of what it should be. But this story really begins in 2011.

"When the water rose in the river McCook Lake started to rise. It was going up almost an inch a day," says Lohry.

It topped off at almost 15 feet filling up the lake's pumping house - ruining it and the equipment inside.

"We had to rebuild everything. We had to rebuild the pump house, the electrical," he says.

A fix that cost the association $30,000. It had to dig into reserve money and now there's not much left.

Because of last years drought the water levels here at McCook Lake are much lower than usual. Which means the lake is literally drying up.

It's not an exaggeration.

Before the drought, the lake was 9 feet deep. Now I could walk across the lake without getting my head wet. I'm 5'4".

And it would have been ankle-deep had the association not planned ahead last year. The Army Corps of Engineers slowed the Missouri River's water flow up at Gavins Point Dam to preserve the water. The Association pumped as much of the water it could into McCook lake before the Army Corps put the brakes on.

And Lohry says there is light at the end of the tunnel.

"We have a lot of great volunteers that number one have to put the pump back into the system. Power it up and get that water pumping from the Missouri river back into McCook Lake," says Lohry.

To Donate or become a member of the Association to help with clean-up go to the Association's Website: