Many alterations in the hydrology of Lake Kampeska began with the arrival of masses of Anglo settlers in the 1870s. Why the lake has been altered is a complex issue linked to various natural physical processes which would have occurred even without the introduction of those settlers into the ecosystem. Those processes include weather, climate, sedimentation rates, lakebank erosion, chemical and mineral transport from soils, and flooding, among others. Besides those natural physical processes, mankind’s cultural processes have been at work. Disturbances in the lake’s hydrology are linked to land use changes associated with cultural values, such as the introduction of agriculture and the expansion of Watertown’s urban setting to include the nearby lake. Perceived water shortages, concerns about water quality, and the need for flood control have caused federal, state, county, and city officials, as well as concerned citizens, to search for answers. They are grappling with the ramifications of a slowly evolving ecosystems approach, collecting data to increase their base of knowledge about the complexities of the system, attempting to provide better management of the lake, and providing educational information to promote a sustainable ecosystem through appropriate change. In creating an historical geography, I analyze Lake Kampeska based on (1) its past land and water use history, including my lifetime of experiences at the lake, information obtained about the lake in oral history studies as Director of the Codington County Historical Society in 1975 and from 1982 through 1997, as well as the photographic record through time; (2) a look at a portion of the scientific knowledge base, relevant to lakes and rivers in general, searching for key concepts which could be used for education of the general public concerning this lake’s future; and (3) summaries of four major scientific reports concerning the lake in 1971, 1994, 2000, and 2002.
Copyright © 2007 Joanita Kant
Kant, Joanita M., "A Historical Geography of Lake Kampeska in the City of Watertown, South Dakota" (2007). Geography Faculty Publications. 2.