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DENR Proposing Stormwater Discharge Fees for Factories, Construction Sites; How Will That Fit Under Department of Agriculture?

Bob Mercer offers a great example of how Governor Kristi Noem’s plan to merge the Department of Environment and Natural Resources with the Department of Agriculture won’t work. The DENR, through its Water Management Board, is working up new fees on large industrial and construction sites for stormwater discharge permits:

The proposed stormwater fees range from $100 to $800 per year per site, depending on the type of business, with a $2,500 maximum, and would begin accruing January 1, 2022.

They would generate an estimated $190,000 more for the department, based on approximately 850 industrial sites that currently have stormwater discharge permits [Bob Mercer, “Stormwater Fees Set for S.D. Industrial Sites,” KELO-TV, 2020.12.02].

The Legislature authorized such stormwater permit fees in 2018 with Senate Bill 25. That bill struck an exception from such fees for feedlot activities, but it also struck the exception for stormwater discharge systems and construction dewatering activities, which include activities entirely unrelated to agriculture.

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources works on important public issues that require expertise far outside the agricultural development sphere that is our current Department of Agriculture’s nearly exclusive focus. Trying to fit the DENR’s diverse environmental protection activities into a narrow office committed to developing one sector of our economy will produce inefficiency and bad government.


  1. Whitless 2020-12-03 09:25

    I generally favor cost saving measures, but this one doesn’t make sense. Almost all of the work performed by DENR is statutory and regulatory (state and federal) and is very diverse, ranging from mining permits to municipal sewage discharge compliance and other regulated activities, including the storm water discharge permits described above. It simply is not a good fit with the Department of Agriculture.

  2. aaron 2020-12-03 11:07

    corn fields and cafo’s are industrial activities which produce massive stormwater runoff. This sounds like something that ought to apply to them as well. Give the operator a waiver if they take steps to limit the runoff.

  3. Donald Pay 2020-12-03 11:18

    Whitless is correct. If you want to combine agencies, GF&P and DENR makes more sense.

    Am I reading this right? The authorization for the fees was given in 2018, and just now over 2 years later they are still thinking about finalizing those fees. I call that the epitome of government inefficiency. The fees are meant to defray costs that are being currently paid by other people to subsidize these discharge permitted.

  4. grudznick 2020-12-03 18:20

    Governor Noem should just create one massive, bureaucratic department loaded with top-heavy fat-cat administrators to just lump everything together. Then the whining about the names of departments could end, because it would just be “The Department.”

    People like Mr. Pay (but not Mr. Pay himself) would say things like:

    That damn Department. They made me stand in line for 2 hours to get my driver’s license.

    You’d better call up The Department about how dirty that breakfast joint’s kitchen is. Somebody needs to shut them down.

    The Department isn’t doing very good at plowing the highway. And what’s up with all the road construction constantly on the route down to Hot Springs? I’m gonna write a real scathing letter to the legislatures and they’ll knock some sense into The Department.

    Wow. I never saw that coming. Governor Noem put grudznick in charge of The Department.

  5. Jake 2020-12-04 11:03

    heh, heh, Grudz-you’d fit right into Trump’s dream of being POTUS for life, wouldn’t you?

  6. P Meyer 2020-12-04 11:44

    If put into the Dept of Agriculture, how about requiring the large cattle feedlots to comply too? Otherwise, it should be “sheltered” somewhere else… the odor from such lots when rain or snowmelt are added in… is horrendous. If the EPA can’t be depended on to enforce containment and odor control, which “agency” is responsible and WILL DO THEIR JOB??? Neighboring properties suffer health and property devaluation from such air quality damage, needless to consider, soil and water contamination from said liquid effluent.

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