U.S. Water News Online
FORT YATES, N.D. -- Local, state and federal officials
worked to bring water to this Standing Rock Indian Reservation
community, after low water levels on Lake Oahe clogged its intake
system and cut off the water supply.
Bureau of Reclamation officials were laying a temporary pipeline
to bring water from the lake to the Fort Yates treatment plant, said
Donel Takes The Gun, a Standing Rock tribal councilman. The
reservation straddles the North Dakota-South Dakota border.
Divers had planned to try to clear out the intake system. The
hospital and tribal offices were closed, and school was closed, Takes
The Gun said. Prairie Knights Casino and Lodge, to the north of Fort
Yates, remained open, but was limiting its water use.
Bottled water was hauled from Bismarck, and patients at the local
hospital were routed to Bismarck, McLaughlin, S.D., and Wakpala,
S.D., Takes The Gun said.
Doug Friez, North Dakota's emergency management director, said
officials tried to backflush the system to clear the plugged intake,
but the tactic did not work. Having divers check the intake is the
next step, he said.
Several buildings in the community use hot water for heat, and
Gov. John Hoeven said two Department of Transportation water trucks
were dispatched to Fort Yates.
Each tanker can haul 6,000 gallons. Friez said the trucks are
normally used to supply water for construction sites. They do not
carry drinkable water, he said.
Area ambulance services were alerted to transfer patients from the
Fort Yates hospital, Friez said. The Fort Yates ambulance service had
transferred about 10 patients to Bismarck, he said.
Fort Yates has about 230 people, but the communities of Cannon
Ball and Porcupine and outlying areas also use water from the Fort
``Right now it's just Fort Yates. The tank that supplies Porcupine
and Cannonball has possibly a day or two supply,'' Takes The Gun
said. ``We're looking at about 10,000 people it may affect if this
situation is not cleared up.''
Tribal Chairman Charles Murphy cautioned Fort Yates residents to
boil water once service was restored, until health officials could
test the water to make sure it was fit to drink.
Lake Oahe stretches 231 miles from central South Dakota into North
Dakota. recently, it was at 1,577.2 feet above sea level, more than
two dozen feet below normal.
The lake sank below its previous record low of 1,580.7 feet in
early October. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers said at the time that
the level should start rising again over the winter.
Sen. Byron Dorgan, D-N.D., said the incident ``ought to be a
wake-up call'' for the corps to change the way it manages the
``This is not the first time cities along the Missouri have
experienced water difficulties because of how the Missouri is
managed, and it clearly will not be the last unless things change,''
The city of Parshall, on the north shore of Lake Sakakawea, is
also faced with losing its lake water supply if Sakakawea's levels
continue to drop. It is expected to reach a record low by March.
Upstream and downstream states have been involved in a prolonged
legal and political battle over how best to manage the system.
Upstream states want more water held in reservoirs, particularly in
the spring, to support fish reproduction and recreation. Downstream
states want more water released from the dams, mainly to support
Return to the
U.S. Water News Archives page
Return to the U.S. Water
Use a comma to separate e-mail addresses:
Hi, I thought you might like to read this article.