SD lawmakers to decide on billion-dollar water pipeline project
RAPID CITY, S.D. — South Dakota lawmakers are working towards a potentially decades-long, billion-dollar pipeline project to make sure West River residents have access to drinking water.
State senator for District 32, Helene Duhamel, has been working with the state to move forward a pipeline from the Missouri River to communities West River. The funds fall into the Department of Agriculture and natural resources budget.
“We have to think, not like three different cities, or if you go on to Blackhawk, Somerset, and New Underwood, all these different cities, this is one regional water source,” said Duhamel. “And if we start regionalizing out here, we can connect when the time comes and get that water. You know, in a correct way to all of western South Dakota, the cities, the counties, the tribes. We want everyone at the table who has a need for water in the future.”
That budget is still waiting for the lawmaker’s approval. If approved, $5 million will be appropriated for the engineering work to be done before the full plan can be put together.
However, it may be more complicated than state pipeline projects in the past.
“This is patterned a little bit after Lewis and Clark that went east,” said Duhamel. “It went downhill through a farmland and it was just closer. It was easier. Now we’re going uphill, we’re going into rock. There might be lift stations, there might be reservoirs, engineering. This will be quite a feat.”
The current estimate for the project is $1.78 billion but is subject to change.