Black Hills Speedway looks to solve water woes

Fixing the problem carries a $3.5 million price tag

RAPID CITY S.D. – The Black Hills Speedway on Rapid City’s east side has been dealing with flooding and runoff.

Fixing it carries a $3.5 million price tag. During Rapid City’s wet season, Black Hills Speedway’s track becomes saturated with water. Races and events are often canceled or rescheduled, sometimes from the slightest rainfall.

“Now it just overflows, gets into the track, all of the sediment runs everywhere,” said Eddie Kirchoff, the leader of racetrack promotions for the Black Hills Speedway.

At issue is the fundamental flow of water. The runoff from hundreds of houses to the north of the Black Hills Speedway on Elk Vale and Road and Twilight Drive, in part, flow into a drainage basin just north of the track. During periods of high rain, the water overflows and can flow into the Black Hills Speedway, also bringing sediment and debris at times.

Water is supposed to flow from the drainage basin, through a pipe under the track. The water then flows into a culvert along Highway 44, which eventually empties out into Rapid Creek.

According to Ron Davis, the president of Davis Engineering, many of the houses built to the north of the Speedway were done so without consultation to the county and how they would effect the Speedway.

“Since then, a lot of development has happened in that basin (to the north of the Speedway) and a lot of that hasn’t been approved by the county,” said Davis. “It’s been built in the wrong place. In other words, they built houses in the bottom of a draw and its right in the middle of a drainage basin.”

The answers to Black Hills Speedway’s water woes lie in a $3.5 million master plan which outlines updates the area’s water systems. The plan was put together in the 1980’s, but was never conducted.

Now, as staff and audiences at Black Hills Speedway deal with a buildup of water and sediment on their track which flows from the north, the question arises: Who should front the bill? Neighboring residents to the north, the Speedway, the county, or the city?

“In order for the Speedway to fund our problem, we need to have some help with funding some place,” said Davis.

According to Davis, back in the 1980s, the South Dakota legislature passed a law saying people who live in the drainage basin to the north would be taxed. The citizens then took it to a public vote, and rejected the tax, leaving the plan without a funding mechanism.

Now, the Black Hills Speedway wants to spark a conversation on funding the project.

“Hopefully we can get to a common ground with the City, County, State, DOT, everybody and we can all end up okay so nobody ends up flooded out anymore,” said Kirchoff.

Categories: Local News, South Dakota News