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SB 156: Duhamel Seeks $100M from ARPA to Help Build Water Pipeline from Missouri River to Black Hills

The House of Representatives gets a chance today to spend another chunk of that federal assistance South Dakota got to survive the pandemic. On today’s busy House calendar is Senate Bill 156, Senator Helene Duhamel’s (R-32/Rapid City) proposal to spend $100 million on water projects in South Dakota.

Duhamel’s original version of SB 156 proposed allocating that $100 million from the American Rescue Plan Act as a down payment on the $2-billion Western Dakota Regional Water System, a West River Lewis and Clark that would pipe Missouri River water to the Black Hills. Senate Agriculture and Natural Resources thought everyone should have a crack at this water funding and replaced the Western Dakota reference with “eligible water projects”. If SB 156 passes, Duhamel and her thirsty neighbors will have to apply for their share of the funding in competition with other dry towns around South Dakota. With that broadened scope, folks from all over the state told Joint Appropriations that SB 156 is a great idea, while the Noem Administration sent grinchy Bureau of Finance and Management Commissioner Jim Terwilliger to say we don’t have enough money to throw at these water projects and Department of Agriculture (and Natural Resources) finance chief Andy Bruels to say SB 156 would (Joshua Haiar’s words) “create additional work for a department already stretched thin” (funny: the Governor’s latest weekly propaganda piece is titled “Hard Work“). Joint Approps approved SB 156 13–5, and the full Senate passed it 29–5.

The House starts work today at 9 a.m. to plow through SB 156 and 18 other bills that must be debated and voted on by the end-of-day deadline for bills to clear their second chamber. The freedom-loving House will surely want to pass SB 156, because all those good people moving to the Hills will have a tough time enjoying their Freedom™ if they don’t have water coming out of their taps.


  1. larry kurtz 2023-03-06

    Will the military push Republicans to get on the socialist bandwagon? Officials at Ellsworth Air Force Base say water wells in Box Elder have tested above the US Environmental Protection Agency health advisory level at 551,000 parts per trillion for two chemicals, PFOS and PFOA, per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances — compounds in foam used to fight petroleum-based fires at a site where pit fires are common. Joe Foss Field in Sioux Falls is poisoned with over 255,000 parts per trillion and Minot Air Force Base in North Dakota suffers 453,000 parts per trillion.

    With drought taking hold in the upper basin we should be sending thoughts and prayers in advance for the wretched masses that have poisoned their own wells and tapped into big gubmint to water lawns while they complain about Waters of the United States or WOTUS.

  2. Donald Pay 2023-03-06

    Well, the Black Hills area residents need to get their water wastage, bad land use practices, and poisoning of local water sources under control before I’d want to spend my tax money on a water pipeline. WEB and Mni Wiconi were water delivery systems to areas that had bad quality water that was from mostly natural causes. I know some of Lewis and Clark was also for bad natural water. But the Black HIlls area has good quality water, except they are going about poisoning it from their own irresponsibility. I don’t think irresponsibility should be rewarded. Same with Aberdeen. Let them pay for it, if they think they need it.

  3. John 2023-03-06

    Larry and Donald are spot on – west river folks prove incapable of being good stewards for the waters they have. There is no reason to socialize sending west river more until AFTER the west river folks provide stewardship for what they have.
    They allow the Forest Service to permit exploratory mines in watersheds used for human waters – instead of withdrawing those watersheds from mining consideration.
    They fail to clean up their Superfund mining sites.
    They fail active programs monitoring septic systems – especially those in watersheds with waters used for human consumption.
    They have no meaningful water conservation programs or widespread xeriscaping.

  4. Phil 2023-03-06

    Once the line gets to the Hills, it’s only a little farther to get it over South Pass, dump the water in the Green or Yampa, and then sell it to….California!

  5. Jake 2023-03-06

    Phil, let’s not think for a minute that your idea isn’t being STRONGLY considered, analyzed in depth, and planning for it to happen! Look at the lowest levels in history of the Colorado river watershed dams! A 4 ft pipeline to the South Pass in Wyoming is their ticket and they’ll try to get it punched…. Meanwhile, water is wasted, wasted, wasted….

  6. larry kurtz 2023-03-06

    In 2011 an interested party wondered whether compressing snow into ice and loading it onto flat rail cars might work. The capacity of the Glen Canyon Dam on the Colorado River is 27,000,000 acre-feet.

    If East River would either carve ice out of the James and Big Sioux Rivers, load it onto side-dump railcars or pump flood water into tank cars, or both, then dump it into the Colorado’s closest tributary, the Green River in Wyoming, South Dakota could sell that water to Las Vegas and Phoenix.

  7. e platypus onion 2023-03-06

    Wonder how many friends of the grifter guv have pipeline construction companies just begging to get over inflated bills to the worthless guv piggy bank.

  8. Thomas Kellar 2023-03-06

    “Forest Service says Black Hills gold exploration project will continue, regardless of public outcry” was the headline from the February 17th Rapid City Journal.

    I agree with Donald, but those residents of the Black Hills who want to protect our water could use some help at the federal and state level. Right now, the 1872 Mining Act gives mining concerns preferential treatment. The state seems to be content to let the mining companies have their way for the sake of economic development. It is shortsighted not to acknowledge that water is more important for any type of development than any mineral. The pressure to mine in the Black Hills for gold, lithium, uranium etc. is just going to increase. I see SB156 as more of a surrender of Black Hills water for mining to be replaced by Missouri River water. We have good water here now, but it will not last if we do not take steps to protect it.

  9. larry kurtz 2023-03-06

    There’s an entire industry that builds rainwater harvest systems in states where conservation is critical. Why would Republicans want to keep constituents dependent on moral hazard when they preach self-reliance?

  10. leslie 2023-03-06

    Sounds like kristi is solidly behind peoples choice. Abortion. People rule. Enacting initiated laws. A Secretary of State protecting the peoples right to vote. Sounds like the governor is all about planning. Planning for future infrastructure. A solid Dept of Ag with staffed, capable environmental protection (water) knowledge. Sounds like Helene bought a bill of goods. Tribes better hope the Missouri River pipe is downstream. Homestake ownership is not going to like losing its Northern Hills water monopoly either.

    For all those bikers, gun industry manufacturers, migrant workers, porous southern border war victims, world refugees, EB5 beneficiaries, Saudi water/land brokers, it sounds like kristi is ready to welcome, and is planning for their influx! Pathways to citizenship!! Man, talk about a visionary.

  11. bearcreekbat 2023-03-06

    Those must be some mighty good shrooms leslie!

  12. sx123 2023-03-06

    Better idea: increase capacity of existing rural water.

  13. Phil 2023-03-06

    Rainwater harvest systems seem like a good idea, too good for those with senior water “rights.” Colorado finally slightly legalized it. I think you get to keep up to 50 gallons at a time, now. No need to conserve, it always rains after a drought!

  14. larry kurtz 2023-03-06

    A 25 by 40 roof yields about 620 gallons per inch of rain and Rapid City gets some 18 inches per year.

  15. All Mammal 2023-03-06

    I don’t know what to do with my documentation of municipal water waste as of late.. Through the main east/west drag of Swift Town, along Hwy 44/Omaha St and Rapid Creek, the city put in as many asinine medians to control one’s freedom of movement as possible. These medians are dangerous for pedestrians and motorists, get in the plough’s way, are traps for litter, and look trashy all while wasting resources. During a glorious downpour last summer, I noticed thirty plus sprinklers spraying the street pavement from those medians….in a downpour…. on a clear evening, I took pictures of the sprinklers watering the street so incredibly, the water was rolling down the hill. I tried to turn the spigot heads towards the fugly daffodils, to no avail. I would assume city planners in drought ridden Rapid City would choose river rock and native yucca to spruce up their bottlenecking traffic bisectors and skip the sprinkler system altogether. I would be wrong. Instead of convincing the entire western SD community to conserve our resources, we encourage pollution and squander. Buncha bs. Pardon my disgruntled rant.

    P.? Is it time to send out a search party?

  16. larry kurtz 2023-03-06

    Fossil water makes for lousy irrigation because of the dissolved salts but contains the minerals humans need. I carried bottles when I lived in the Hills and know where many of the artesian springs are.

  17. larry kurtz 2023-03-06

    Philip, Midland, Murdo and Kadoka have horrible groundwater that eats ice machine and makes hideous coffee. They could do much with catchment and tap the geothermal gold mine they sit on.

  18. larry kurtz 2023-03-06

    Mobridge is at 1,660 feet, Rapid is about 3,200 and pumping uphill costs money every year.

  19. larry kurtz 2023-03-06

    The Forest Service just extended comments on the Newark drilling project for 30 days because of the pushback from residents and tribes.

  20. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2023-03-06

    I keep waiting for conservatives to promote conservation with the same passion and good sense that many commenters here are promoting conservation. Let’s see the Black Hills figure out how to make better use of the water they have available before we use taxpayer dollars to help them waste Missouri River water.

    I also keep waiting for principled conservatives like Jon Hansen to stand up and refuse to use those evil Biden bucks to make down payments on big socialist projects like this.

  21. grudznick 2023-03-06

    The inner-environmentalist in grudznick agrees with Mr. H, but the fellow inside who likes a lush, green lawn says use those Biden wastefulness to our advantage out here, before Sioux Falls gets it all.

  22. DaveFN 2023-03-06

    larry kurtz

    “A 25 by 40 roof yields about 620 gallons per inch of rain and Rapid City gets some 18 inches per year.”

    A 25 foot by 40 foot roof = 1000 square feet = 144000 square inches.

    At 18 inches of rainfall a year, that’s 11160 gallons a year as per

    11,160 gallons / 144000 square inches = 0.0775 gallons per inch.

    Far from 620 gallons per inch.

  23. larry kurtz 2023-03-07

    620 gallons of water per inch of rainfall. Find someone else to troll, Dave.

  24. All Mammal 2023-03-07

    My buddy’s 55 gal rain barrel next to his trailer house fills in less than a minute in a soaker, so 620 gallons per inch of rain sounds accurate. And that’s just from the pitch from one half his roof.

  25. larry kurtz 2023-03-07

    That’s a calculation for a 2000 square foot roof.

  26. Joe 2023-03-07

    Seth Tupper and the SD Searchlight published a great piece on this topic last month.

    One of several things I learned: Lake Sakakawea in North Dakota, Lake Oahe in South Dakota and North Dakota, and Fort Peck Lake in Montana rank as the nation’s third, fourth and fifth largest-capacity reservoirs, respectively. Lake Mead and Lake Powell are the largest by about 3M acre-feet each, but they’re also only about a quarter full these days.

  27. e platypus onion 2023-03-07

    18::18 Grudzilla admits to being a socialist.

  28. DaveFN 2023-03-07

    e platypus onion

    “An inch of rainfall on a square foot of surface area yields .623 gallons. So, multiply .623 gallons by the number of surface square feet of your roof. ”

    kurtz’ 1000 square feet roof X .623 = 623 gallons per inch of rainfall

    larry kurtz

    If you don’t want people to follow your posts maybe you shouldn’t post, uh, repost and recycle and repost, that is.

  29. larry kurtz 2023-03-07

    Shove it, Dave. My blog has never been as popular as it is now.

  30. grudznick 2023-03-07

    Even grudznick visits his close personal friend Lar’s blog almost daily for a fresh dose of bitter complaining. It starts my day off righter-than-right.

  31. larry kurtz 2023-03-07

    Dilution as a solution to pollution is what Pierre does every session.

  32. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2023-03-08

    Seth’s article is keenly relevant to the discussion of SB 156 and the West River water pipeline it might fund. Lewis and Clark simply ships the Missouri water back uphill to folks in the greater Sioux Falls metro area. As Phil and Jake suggest, the pipeline Helene Duhamel wants to build for her constituents could easily be the first couple hundred miles of the pipeline thirsty Colorado River basin bidders will want to divert the Missouri’s bounty to their dry settlements.

  33. grudznick 2023-03-10

    Ms. Duhamel, as you well know, Lar, doesn’t do much quietly. She is a bit of a whiner and screamer. Just sayin…

  34. leslie 2023-04-05

    bear- surprisingly, i’ve never used drugs :)

  35. bearcreekbat 2023-04-05

    leslie, wise decision!

Comments are closed.