Residents Worry Over Future of Sturgis Airport Lake

The lake could be drained in the near future because of issues surrounding the lake's levy.
The Sturgis Airport Lake in Union County is a popular summer spot for fishing and picnics, but soon, it could be history. The lake may be drained in the near future because of issues surrounding a levy and land rights.

On this quiet day at Sturgis Airport Lake, a storm of uncertainty gathers.

"In the summertime, you have quite a few people here on a daily basis," says Emily James of Sturgis, who remembers being here for anything.

"As a kid, I was out here all the time with my parents, fishing, just playing around, I'd even have birthday parties out here sometimes," James says. But she adds she doesn't want to see the lake evaporate into history.

"I can't take my kids fishing if there's not a lake," says James.

Officials with the Union County Air Board, the lake's owner, say they may have to drain the lake.  The reason: drainage issues with the levy that must be fixed. But before they can make repairs on that levy, officials say they're going to need property easements from the surrounding land owners. And, so far, they don't have all of them.

"In order to place the levy back into its original position, we need to obtain what is called the 100 year flood plain easements, which are 3-4 feet what the existing water level is now," says Gary Ervin of the Union Co. Air Board.  He adds if it's not drained, they'll be fined $2,500 a day by the state over the lake's problems. 

Many Sturgis residents don't want to see the pictures of their lake last longer than the lake itself.

"If they want to drain it and repair the thing and clean it up, as long as they refill it, I'd be fine with that," James says.

There were rumors that the lake was going to be drained Wednesday. But officials say that's not true because they still need permits before any draining starts.

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