Newell Lake closed after concerns about dam’s integrity

NEWELL, S.D. – Structural concerns about the dam at Newell Lake have led authorities to close the area to the public until further notice.

According to South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks, heavy rain and snowfall this year have put extra strain on the drainage area of Newell Lake. The lake sits roughly 11 miles north of Newell.

Jake Davis, Area Fisheries Supervisor for SD GF&P, says water levels are currently seven feet below the spillway and roughly 12 feet below the crest of the dam. Davis says the lake level is dropping.

Latest look at the spillway at Newell Lake (Courtesy: SD GF&P)

Pumps were running through the fall to decrease the lake levels in preparation for snow melt and more run-off in the spring. Butte County Sheriff Fred Lamphere says the pumps had to be shut off due to recent freezing temperatures.

Now that temperatures are warming back up, snow melt and run-off continues and authorities noticed leaks near the face of the dam.

Backside of the dam where leaks were discovered (Courtesy: SD GF&P)

Lamphere says the decision to close the lake is a precaution due to the dam being deemed unstable. Access to the lake is barricaded at Highway 79 and Newell Lake Road.

Newell Lake is roughly 186 acres and 25 feet deep at its deepest point. Overflow is pushed to creeks south of the area. According to Lamphere, no homes are in the way should the dam break.

The situation continues to be monitored by the South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks staff.

Earlier this year, damage occurred to the spillway but in both the spring and currently, no water is moving through the spillway.

Photo from Spring 2019 (Courtesy: SD GF&P)
Categories: Local News, South Dakota News