Taxes, Education, Economic Development... and now water

For as long as anyone can remember, the top issues in political elections across South Dakota have involved Taxes, Education, and Economic Development. Abortion can come and go (it's in full swing lately) but historically it's not a major issue in every election.

Lately, water keeps popping to the forefront. And it might lead one to wonder if it's going to rise to be a permanent issue in South Dakota elections. Why? Simply because it seems as if there's not enough of it.

Towns and villages on the northern Missouri river are losing their source of municipal water as the corps of engineers continues to let the mighty Mo' dry up. Around Pierre (an issue which affects me directly) the rural water provider has put tapping the supply to a halt - crushing non-municipal housing development.

And Rapid City and Sioux Falls continue to struggle with dependable water supply as you might note noted in today's column in the Rapid City Journal by Mike Sanborn:
The good news from the Mayor’s Water Advocacy Task Force is that Rapid City’s existing water treatment plant probably isn’t going to break any time soon. The bad news is your water rates are going to go up eventually. But, who cares?

The task force is studying the recommendations from the Colorado firm Burns McDonald’s report on how best to treat and use the water from the Jackson Springs gallery, which the city was forced to shut down by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources after several tests showed the water was being influenced by surface water.


No matter what the task force recommends; no matter what path the city decides to take; no matter how long it takes to put into place a solution; and no matter what funding sources are found to pay for it all, it’s going to cost multiple millions of dollars.

The apathy is disturbing since this issue — more than sky boxes and tax increment financing districts — is the single most important real issue facing Rapid City for the near and distant future.
Read it all here.

What do I see? As the Department of Health rose into the forefront of the public's consciousness because of paranoia over West Nile disease, you're going to hear more and more of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources as it's repeatedly quoted over issues on the availability and quality of water. Watch legislators pay more attention to the issue as well.

If you don't have water - you don't have development. That's a debate that most Republicans can agree with.


DakotaDemocrat said…
From now on in South Dakota, water issues will be one of the first questions asked when businesses look to build, expand or move.

Ethanol, housing, industrial and many other developments use water - and plenty of it. Communities may not get good growth opportunties because of their water issues.
Anonymous said…
Ethanol uses HUGE amounts of water. We talk about it as a "renewable" resource, but when it causes us to drain an aquifer and make water even more scarce, is it really that renewable?
Anonymous said…
This is only going to get worse with global warming. I know there are still a few around here who don't think global warming is real, but the deniers are getting to be few and far between. The White House admits that it's real. And today, six retired admirals and five retired generals issued a report saying that "in the next 30 to 40 years there will be wars over water, increased hunger instability from worsening disease and rising sea levels and global warming-induced refugees." according to

And they want the government to take action "Joining calls already made by scientists and environmental activists, the retired U.S. military leaders call on the U.S. government to make major cuts in emissions of gases that cause global warming."

If what we've seen in the last few years of drought is any indication of what we have on tap, it's going to get much worse before it gets better.
Anonymous said…
The current water issues are a result of years of Republican rule here. They don't want to do any sort of projects or anything else that requires spending money. But now we are paying the price and if we have a drought year out east it is gonna get really really ugly as all these people around Sioux Falls vie for water. We have ignored this issue, refused to fund it and allowed farmers to continue to pollute the water sources around the state. Now state officials are starting to panic. Our water doubled in cost recently and now it is going to go up another 25%. This is a real problem. But what was time spent on last legislative session????
Anonymous said…
5:05, first off stop blaming a whole group of people for a choosen few!
Farmers are not to blame for pollution! Farmers for the most part care deeply for the land. Sure there are a few who don't have a clue as how to work it but, with all the tules and regs and nosey busy bodies out there believe me the ones who are breaking rules are found out!
Per square foot more city people who more chemicals on their lawns and gardens that farmers use!
Stop slapping tha hands that feed you!
Yes, it would be great to reduce emmissions, so how many times to you walk, ride a bike or car pool??? People tend to complain but are unwilling to do anything except lip service.
Another example: Pfeople want all of us to reuse, recycle etc, well from shoping in stores we have more plastic and disposible items in homes now than ever before. No wonder fires in homes are worse and burn more quickly.
Anonymous said…
sorry for the mis-spells.

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