South Dakota is drained almost entirely by the Missouri River and its tributaries. The only sections that are not lie in the extreme northeast and northwest. The Missouri flows southward and then southeastward across the state, in a deep, wide channel. It forms part of the South Dakota-Nebraska state line. Much of the South Dakota section of the river is now made up of a chain of four reservoirs impounded by large dams. These dams include Fort Randall, Gavins Point, Big Bend, and Oahe dams, built for flood control and to provide water for irrigation and the generation of hydroelectricity.
The James River, the Vermillion River, and the Big Sioux River, all in the eastern half of the state, flow southward in roughly parallel courses to join the Missouri. In the western part of the state the Grand, Moreau, Cheyenne, Bad, and White rivers flow generally eastward to join the Missouri.
The largest natural lake in South Dakota is Lake Thompson in the east-central part of the state. Other natural lakes of significant size in South Dakota are lakes Traverse and Big Stone, both in the northeastern corner of the state. Numerous small lakes and sloughs dot the landscape of northeastern South Dakota. The largest lakes are the reservoirs behind dams on the Missouri River, all of which were constructed as part of the Missouri river basin project. "South Dakota" © Emmanuel BUCHOT, Encarta, Wikipedia
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