Officials expect Western South Dakota’s reservoir levels to drop throughout the summer. This is due to irrigation releases and dry conditions ahead. Ginger Wessels is with the Bureau of Reclamation. She says reservoir levels vary across the region, with Shadehill Reservoir near Lemmon at the lowest total. She says this spring’s precipitation helped prepare for the season, but patterns of moisture in May and June and lack of snowpack contribute to drops in overall levels. She adds predictions see potentially different weather than usual.
“What we hear from the Weather Service is we were in El Nino and then we’re moving into a La Nina, which is where we have more of a severe weather pattern, where if we get snow, it’ll be cold so it won’t melt right away, which is a little different from what we usually see," says Wessels.
Wessels says irrigation releases from the reservoirs will end in September, and due to upcoming dry, hot weather, conservation releases into nearby streams will only meet minimum requirements.