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Environmental Regulators Beat Conservative Poopyheads in West Dakota Water Development District Election

Amidst the wreckage of last week’s election, an eager reader pointed out one shiny gem: sane people committed to sensible government kicked litigious yahoos off the West Dakota Water Development Board.

South Dakota Water Development Districts, from SD Legislature 2016 interim document.
South Dakota Water Development Districts, from SD Legislature 2016 interim document. West Dakota WDD is all of Pennington County west of the Cheyenne River.

Anarcho-conservative Hill City denizen George Ferebee has been on a crusade against septic-tank regulations in the Black Hills. Apparently he wants to be able to pee and poop all over his Black Hills property and not be held to any reasonable standard for keeping his waste from polluting the watershed. Last month, he got fellow conservatives on the West Dakota Water Development Board to appropriate $7,500 to pay his lawyer to fight state regulations on septic systems.

Read that again: a water development board is going to spend taxpayer dollars collected for the purpose of protecting water quality to fight regulations meant to protect water quality. That was too much for even one of Ferebee’s conservative friends on the board:

Because of Ferebee’s history, West Dakota board member Jeannette Deurloo, who voted against the $7,500 authorization, described the board’s action as an improper use of public funds to support a private legal fight.

“This is not the purpose of what we’re here for,” Deurloo said during the West Dakota board meeting. “This is not in our bylaws that we finance legal aid to citizens.”

Deurloo has since disclosed to the Rapid City Journal that she is one of several board members who was encouraged by Ferebee to seek a seat on the West Dakota board. She is sympathetic to his arguments against local septic laws, she said, but she thinks Ferebee should use his own time and resources to wage his campaign against the laws [Seth Tupper, “Prodded by Ferebee, Board Commits up to $7,500 in Public Funds Against Septic Laws,” Rapid City Journal, 2018.10.28].

That was also too much for voters, who replaced three incumbent yahoos with a team of candidates against the lawyer bills and for water quality, Ron Koth, Dan Driscoll, and Steven Rolinger. Voters also picked a fourth candidate, Linda Harris, who joined that pro-water team to claim an open seat.

Water is life itself. Ferebee and his fellow anarchists were quite literally crapping on life. It is nice to see an honest pro-life vote win somewhere in South Dakota. I suggest that liberals looking for better results in 2020 look to this pro-environmental result in one of the reddest areas of the state for guidance.


  1. TAG 2018-11-14

    Well this is encouraging. It’s nice when people actually get past partisan acrimony, and realize that the beneficiaries of environmental regulations are actually real humans that need access to clean drinking water. It’s easy to rage against the “radicals” in the Sierra Club or tree-huggers in California and Washington to “get off our lawn”, but it’s much harder to justify the direct pollution of our direct drinking water done by our direct neighbors.

  2. Donald Pay 2018-11-14

    I was always on the fence about whether they should dissolve the predecessor agency to the West Dakota Water Development Board. Having a Black Hills board makes more sense, but previous corruption meant Lawrence and Meade counties withdrew from the district,

    In the 1980s it was totally corrupt. David Miller asked TIP to do a study of how that corruption manifested itself. Deb Rogers figured out how money churned through state boards to the district to a professor at School of Mines. These people had it all figured out how to each get a piece of your tax money. Well, the research helped with a movement to get Lawrence and Meade County out of the District, so now there is just a sliver of Pennington County left. No one pays much attention to it anymore, which means it is a place corruption can happen.

  3. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2018-11-14

    Interesting, Donald! What do Lawrence and Meade, and for that matter Custer and Fall River, do for water quality issues? Is there a chance of re-establishing cooperation across the watershed? Is a bigger district needed?

    TAG, I would agree that there is nothing radical about not wanting George Ferebee’s poop in one’s water.

  4. Donald Pay 2018-11-14

    Counties and cities look out for themselves, which means there is no central place where these issues are discussed. DENR water staff do some of this, too. Dr. Rahn did a lot of work on the groundwater flows in the Black Hills and discovered that many areas are interconnected, how surface and groundwater interact, etc. I think the USGS continues to do some work, too. The City of Rapid City has been pretty good about protecting its water supply, both quantity and quality. Didn’t Daugaard have some pretty good ideas about this back early in his reign, but they never got enacted?

  5. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2018-11-15

    Daugaard did slowly come around to support the grassy buffer strips legislation, once he could make it his idea and keep Dems from getting credit. I’m not sure about much else coming from Daugaard in terms of positive environmental legacy.

    Hmm… is that an issue the next corps of Democratic candidates need to hit harder?

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