- Associated Press - Sunday, January 20, 2019

RAPID CITY, S.D. (AP) - University researchers and a local water development board have teamed up to survey the prospect of channeling Missouri River water to Rapid City and western Pennington County

Four staff members and three students at the South Dakota School of Mines and Technology have piloted the study, the Rapid City Journal reported.

The West Dakota Water Development District subsidized their effort with a $37,341 contract. The district board said their mission is “partnering with state and local entities to protect water resources.” The district is supported by a tariff of 2.4 cents per $1,000 of valuation paid by property owners, which produces about $230,000 in annual profits.

Nathan Gjovik, a West Dakota Water Development District board member, described the study as crucial to the future of the Rapid City region.

“From my perspective, this is the kind of project that this board is set up to try to develop,” Gjovik said.

The district has held a future-use license to extract up to 10,000 acre-feet of water per year, equal to more than 3 billion gallons, from the Missouri River since 1976. The permit has never been used for a water project, but the district has renewed the permit every seven years, most recently in 2017.

The study’s preliminary projections are that locally available water resources could be fully tapped as early as about 2040 if the area population grows. This means usage could outpace natural replenishment of water resources.

“I don’t want this just to be another study that sits on somebody’s shelf and gathers dust,” Gjovik said. “I want this to be a good expenditure of taxpayer funding that we can use to present to decision-makers.”


Information from: Rapid City Journal, http://www.rapidcityjournal.com

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