How Pactola Dam water is released

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RAPID CITY, S.D. (KEVN) - With flooding over the last couple of weeks in the Black Hills, some people are asking, "Why does the city keep releasing more water from Pactola Dam?"

Water flowing out of Pactola Dam. (KEVN)

Water from Pactola Dam goes down through Rapid Creek, through the City of Rapid City, and eventually to the Farmingdale area.

Within the last few weeks, water from Rapid Creek flooded some homes and roadways in the Black Hills.

But the Rapid City Water Superintendent says the city is not the final decision maker when it comes to releasing the dam water.

"We work very closely with the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation. The USBR owns the dam and we just have an operations and maintenance contract with them where we operate and maintain the dam. So we have eyes and ears at the dam, letting them know levels and things like that, but they make the ultimate call of how much we're going to release," Jeff Crockett said, Rapid City Water Superintendent.

Water out of Pactola Dam is currently flowing at 500 cubic feet per second.

Crockett says there's a reason they continued to release more water despite the flooding.

"At the time that there was flooding going on here, there was actually more inflow into Pactola Dam than there was outflow. So they were controlling a lot of that flow and not just letting it run straight through. If they had, there probably would have been more flooding," Crockett said.

Crockett says the Bureau of Reclamation considers several factors when adjusting water levels at Pactola.

"They're looking at a number of things. The inflow into Pactola. The outflow from Deerfield, which is going into Pactola. Plus, Rapid Creek is picking up flows from other creeks around Rapid City and from runoff and so they're looking at the weather. They're looking at the other creek flows. They're looking at inflow and outflow," Crockett said.

Crockett says Pactola's very full now, and it's doing its job both as a flood control dam and a reservoir for storing water.