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Republicans Advocate More Government, More Taxes, More Federal Money for Lake Thompson Area

Four East River Republicans want more government and more taxes, in the form of new taxes imposed by a new water project district around Lakes Thompson and Henry in Kingsbury County:

Rural residents from the flood-prone Lake Thompson and Lake Henry area of Kingsbury County have received the green light to hold an election on whether to form a water project district that would have taxing power and local financial support and could seek state and federal assistance to reduce or respond to new flooding.

The state Board of Water and Natural Resources on Thursday approved a resolution recognizing that the petition was valid and calling for a local vote to happen within 60 days. If voters establish the district, a second election would be held to choose the district’s directors.

Publicly supporting the effort are the Kingsbury County Commission and four state legislators from the broader area: Republican Sen. Casey Crabtree, Republican Rep. Roger Chase, Republican Rep. John Mills and Republican Rep. Tim Reisch [Bob Mercer, “Lake Thompson Landowners Seek a Water Project District,” KELO-TV, 2023.03.30].

The new district would encompass 47 square miles, 5.4% of Kingsbury County:

LTAWPD Petition Committee, proposed map for Lake Thompson Area Water Project District, submitted to SD Board of Water and Natural Resources March 2023. Annotated by CAH/DFP.
LTAWPD Petition Committee, proposed map for Lake Thompson Area Water Project District, submitted to SD Board of Water and Natural Resources March 2023. Annotated by CAH/DFP.

In their letter to the Board of Water and Natural Resources (see March 30 agenda packet, way down in the middle of the PDF), the Lake Thompson Area Water Project District Petition Committee says hot-diggity-dog to the prospect of getting lots of federal money to make their lakeside lives less wet:

LTAWPD Petition Committee, letter to SD Board of Water and Natural Resources, agenda packet, 2023.03.30.
LTAWPD Petition Committee, letter to SD Board of Water and Natural Resources, agenda packet, 2023.03.30.

The petition committee says their petition has gathered signatures from about 65% of voters within the proposed district boundary, well above the 25% required by SDCL 6-16-2. As of March 1, Kingsbury County’s registered voters were 61.3% Republican. Unless the Democrats who make up barely a fifth of Kingsbury County’s electorate have clustered around the lakes, a lot of Republican lakeshore property owners are calling for new government, new taxes, and more state and federal money to support their lakeside lifestyle.

Maybe I should asterisk “a lot”: the petition includes 28 signatures, which suggests the total number of qualified voters within the proposed district boundaries is maybe 43.

But we should also asterisk that “28” and “65%”: a voter count included in the agenda packet and labeled as “Received from Kingsbury County Auditor” indicates that the auditor counted 26 valid signatures on the petition out of 52 registered voters who live in the proposed Lake Thompson water district:

"List of Registered Voter in Proposed Lake Thompson Area WPD - Received from Kingsbury County Auditor", SDBWNR agendas packet, 2023.03.30.
“List of Registered Voter in Proposed Lake Thompson Area WPD – Received from Kingsbury County Auditor”, SDBWNR agenda packet, 2023.03.30.

26 out of 52 is 50%, which by no stretch of imagination rounds up to 65%. Hmmm… if they get their water district, let’s hope the Lake Thompson boosters are better at counting all those federal dollars they are after than they are at counting their voting neighbors.

Anyway, I can understand why a good liberal would advocate gathering the community to work together through government, pay taxes, and seek assistance from Uncle Sam to improve its quality of life. What I can’t understand is why good conservative anti-government Republicans like Casey Crabtree, John Mills, and any of the 61.3% of registered Republicans in Kingsbury County would support such creeping taxation, big government, and socialism.


  1. Richard Schriever 2023-03-31 08:25

    Because in reality, they are registered and vote Republican because that’s what Mom and Dad did and they don’t really know what “conservatism” means beyond the social identity aspects of that label. For then, that “conservative” label includes, or even means being “cheap” – I.E. always on the lookout for a “bargain”. There is no consideration – none, zero, of the idea that other actual people through a government mechanism is “social democracy” (socialism). It is simply a bargain-hunting venture on their own part(s). Nothing political about it at all. This is how rationalization works,

  2. John 2023-03-31 09:23

    Their proposal is almost criminally laughable.
    Many of them tile drained their fields to contribute to the flooding of Lakes Thompson and Henry. Many farmers outside the constipated proposed district tile drained their fields which contributed to, and will in future contribute to the flooding.
    A properly designed district would include the entire flood plains that drain into Lakes Henry and Thompson. To do otherwise is merely throwing money at a perpetual problem . . . and maybe that is what these faux conservatives seek, an endless federal cookie jar.

  3. Donald Pay 2023-03-31 10:19

    John is correct. It’s easy to take pot shots at this effort. I’ve witnessed about 40 years of complaints about flooding there, and all sorts of efforts to alleviate it. The fact is Lake Thompson is sometimes dry and sometimes 20 feet deep, depending on snow depth and spring rains. That’s just the nature of that lake, but the the tiling has added to the upward fluctuation. My particular solution would be to buy up the property and let it go back to a natural area where fluctuating water levels would not disturb anyone, but that solution is not likely to happen.

  4. All Mammal 2023-03-31 11:25

    Some men need to learn to respect water and take water into consideration firstly, before plopping roads and homes down. Water always wins.

  5. larry kurtz 2023-03-31 11:41

    Republican is simply another word for Earth hater.

    Lake Kampeska, Lake Poinsett, Lake Mitchell, Lake Thompson and other non-meandered bodies of water will continue to suffer the effects of human-caused climate distortions but disaster declarations are how Republicans who preach small gubmint fund crumbling infrastructure in red states. Recall Rep. Kristi Noem repeatedly voted against disaster aid after Hurricane Sandy and other climate related catastrophes but she doesn’t respect self-reliance because she’s wedded to moral hazard.

  6. Arlo Blundt 2023-03-31 15:27

    Everybody who’s commented so far is on the right track. The project probably needs to be expanded and turned into a conservation program to preserve a vast wetland. It has been damaged by tiling and there is more water in the watershed than was historically true. Thompson is a big basin with water levels fluctuating based on the amount of snow and rainfall, and now tiling drainage. It is a huge duck and other wildlife factory and always has been. It is the granddaddy of all potholes. The water eventually meanders into a branch of the Vermillion River. Because it is not much of a “personal watercraft lake” it is not highly valued by developers and that’s good. I think the local folks are well intentioned here….they need a broader vision and some leadership from the state.

  7. grudznick 2023-03-31 15:57

    Everybody who knows grudznick knows grudznick does not value ducks. But the fellows who like to have a frosty beverage at Wheaties after fishing on the lake named Thompson really don’t want change in their world.

  8. Arlo Blundt 2023-03-31 21:56

    Oh yes they do, want change, Grudznick. They want to “put it back the way it was”. They remember when the sky was filled to the horizons with Mallards, Red Heads, and Canvassbacks, all ducks which are excellent table fare and which go, very well, with gravy.

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