The James Diversion Dam and Reservoir are located on the James River in east-central South Dakota, approximately 17 miles north of Huron. The dam presently provides a supplemental water supply for the city of Huron, South Dakota. In the Oahe Unit plan, the primary purpose of the James Diversion Dam is to provide a pool for pumping natural and return flows to Byron Reservoir, through the proposed James Pumping Plant and the James Canal, for use on the East Lake Plain Area.
The contract for construction of the James Diversion Dam was awarded on July 18, 1963. All contract work was completed by November 4, 1964.
James Diversion Dam and Reservoir are operated and maintained by the city of Huron specifically for municipal water storage purposes.
The city of Huron is assured an adequate supplemental municipal water supply to meet its foreseeable future needs.
Recreation and Fish and Wildlife
Recreation and fish and wildlife developments associated with the reservoir and associated lands are managed by the South Dakota Department of Game, Fish and Parks under contract with the Bureau of Reclamation.
Various facilities associated with outdoor recreation are provided at the five developed recreation areas around the reservoir. Facilities include campgrounds, picnic areas, sanitary facilities, and boat ramp developments, in addition to a scenic overlook.
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The general area that encompasses the Oahe Unit was open for homestead entry by 1873. There was a great influx of settlers from about 1876 to 1883, along with extensive railroad development. The area has highly variable annual precipitation patterns and periodic insect infestations that have affected grain and forage production, and stability of the predominantly agricultural economy.
The search for a water supply to irrigate lands in the James River Basin had already begun when South Dakota became a State in 1889. Early efforts to use the artesian water underlying the portions of the James River Valley for irrigation were frustrating because of the limited supply of water and its poor quality.
During the 1920's and 1930's there was considerable interest in the construction of dams on the Missouri River for navigation, flood control, hydroelectric power, and irrigation along the James River since its erratic flows could not provide a reliable and sustained water supply.
The severe and extended drought period of the 1930's and extensive flooding along the Missouri River and some of its tributaries during the early 1940's prompted the Congress to direct the Bureau of Reclamation and the Corps of Engineers to undertake studies for the development of the resources of the Missouri River Basin. The Bureau of Reclamation directed its attention to evaluating the resources for irrigation and related land resources and municipal and industrial water; the Corps of Engineers conducted its studies on flood control and navigation. Both agencies considered the possibilities of hydroelectric power generation. After review by the Congress, the two general plans for development were combined, modified, and authorized by the Flood Control Act of 1944.
The Oahe Unit, a plan predominantly for irrigation development, was a part of the overall plan for development of the resources of the Missouri River Basin.
The Bureau of Reclamation conducted further engineering, land resources, and economic studies in the 1940's and 1950's throughout the Missouri River Basin area, including a feasibility study of the Oahe Unit as a part of the Missour River Basin Project. These studies identified the Oahe Unit irrigable lands within Sully, Brown, Spink, Marshall, and Day Counties in east-central South Dakota with an ultimate irrigation development potential of 495,000 acres. The initial stage development is comprised of 190,000 acres in Brown and Spink Counties.
The city of Huron requested the Bureau of Reclamation to construct the James Diversion Dam before the construction of the Oahe Unit, to provide additional municipal water.
The report on the James Diversion Dam of the Oahe Unit was completed in March 1962.
The james Diversion Dam, Oahe Unit, is part of the Pick-Sloan Missouri Basin Program which as authorized by the Flood Control Act of 1944 (59 Stat. 887) as supplemented and extended by the Flood Control Act of 1946 (60 Stat. 641). Funds for the diversion dam investigations were specifically identified in Public Works Appropriation Act of 1961 (74 Stat. 743); construction funds were authorized in the Appropriation Act of 1963, (P.L. 87-800, 78 Stat. 1220) and continued in the Appropriation Act of 1964.
The plan of development provided for the early construction of the James Diversion Dam to furnish the city of Huron with an additional 1,90-acre-foot water supply annually for municipal and industrial purposes. The water is conveyed to the city via the James River. The dam provides sufficient supplemental water to meet the future needs of the city, assuming normal growth rates and assuming that the runoff of the James River will be comparable to that received during prior dry periods. It is possible that return flows to the James River resulting from irrigation development of the Oahe Unit, or the Garrison Diversion Unit in North Dakota, will provide additional water for the city. The James Diversion Dam will become an integral part of the Oahe Unit when the unit is developed. The present plan does not include any irrigation prior to development of the Oahe Unit.
The plan provides for fish and wildlife enhancement and recreation development.
James Diversion Dam
The James Diversion Dam is a 50-foot concrete gravity ogee weir with flanking earth dikes. The dam has a 6-foot-square cast iron slide gate and a manual lift installed in a sluiceway at elevation 1225.0. An earth channel auxiliary spillway 150 feet wide and 1,900 feet long is excavated across the flood plain to the right of the dam.
The channel inlet invert is constructed of rock riprap at elevation 1242.0. The capacity of the reservoir is 4,875 acre-feet at spillway crest elevation 1240.5.
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