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Iowa Carbon Dioxide Pipeline Seeks 21M Gallons of Water a Year from Redfield Well

Not only does Summit Carbon Solutions want to take your land, but it also wants to take your water. The Iowa company, which wants to run a network of carbon dioxide pipelines across South Dakota to cash in on federal tax credits for carbon sequestration, wants to drill a well near Redfield and take 21 million gallons of water a year:

A corporate entity affiliated with Summit Carbon Solutions, called Redfield SCS Capture, has applied to drill a well that could take up to 21 million gallons of water per year from the Dakota Aquifer, which is an amount equivalent to about 32 Olympic-sized pools.

The well would be about 1,100 feet deep and located a few miles north of Redfield, in the same area as the Redfield Energy ethanol plant, which is a partner in the Summit pipeline project.

The state Department of Agriculture and Natural Resources said in a written statement to South Dakota Searchlight that the water will be used for “non-contact cooling.” The department provided no further information, and Summit did not respond to multiple Searchlight messages. Other sources interviewed for this story speculated the water will be used to cool pipes carrying pressurized carbon dioxide.

After its use, the water would be discharged into a local waterway, DANR’s report says. The report does not say which body of water, but the site is near Turtle Creek and the James River [Joshua Haiar, “Carbon Pipeline Company’s Water-Rights Application Sparks Opposition,” South Dakota Searchlight, 2023,08.20].

The state says that in 1982, the Dakota Aquifer had around 124 trillion gallons of water, enough to cool the carbon dioxide pipeline near Redfield for 5.9 million years. But some neighbors are concerned the project could hurt their water supply:

One of those nearby residents is Debra Curtis, who ranches about 2.5 miles from the proposed Summit well and fears it would “reduce the water pressure and flow of my well.”

Dave and Stacey Marlow wrote to the department that their drive-in theater “will not have adequate water pressure to continue business” if the project is permitted.

“I was told that much water being extracted will create a cone-shaped vacuum into the aquifer,” Dave Marlow told South Dakota Searchlight. “And for wells only a mile or so away, like ours, there’s just not enough pressure” [Haiar, 2023.08.20].

Concerned water users will get a chance to voice their opposition to Summit Carbon Solution’s well application before the state Water Management Board at a contested case hearing on October 4 in Pierre.


  1. jerry 2023-08-21

    I think this well will be one of several that will be needed. The good folks of Redfield are right to be alarmed at this water situation.

  2. sx123 2023-08-21

    Yes. This is clearly a waste of money and natural resources. Also don’t forget the additional est.10% water used by ethanol plants to connect to the pipeline.

    But at least North Dakota will have additional CO2 reservoirs for enhanced oil recovery after the tax credits expire.

  3. Donald Pay 2023-08-21

    I participated in a few water rights contested cases in my time in SD. Unless the laws have changed, artesian water pressure is not protected. Water that is pumped from an aquifer has some protection from interference if the well is properly constructed. If not, things can get dicey. This is a technical area of the law, and it’s wise to have attorneys available and qualified engineer or driller involved if you aren’t familiar with the specifics of your well and the law. You can contest whatever the DANR water rights folks propose, which means you get to present your case to the Board of Water Management whether you have an attorney or not.

  4. Donald Pay 2023-08-21

    I believe people can attempt to intervene still. The Board considered the public comments to be requests for a contested case, but if you feel you have something at risk, you can intervene (at least that’s how it used to work).

  5. Edwin Arndt 2023-08-21

    Maybe Redfield could drill a well and sell water to the pipeline.
    Don’t laugh. My town sells water to the ethanol plant.
    21,000,000 gallons a year works out to 57534 gal. per day.
    That’s a little less than 2 inches a day on a pro football field.

  6. larry kurtz 2023-08-21

    Money or rat hole?
    Whether tis nobler to flick
    Earth’s wet booger there.

  7. Nick Nemec 2023-08-21

    What temperature will this discharged water be when it is discharged into local surface water? Will this warm water affect the aquatic biology where it is discharged? What quality will the discharged water be? On page 4 of this report by the South Dakota Geological Survey, the Dakota Aquifer is described as moderately saline to very saline. Will salty water lower the quality of the surface water it is discharged in?

  8. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2023-08-22

    Pheasant City Drive-In owners Dave and Stacey Marlow say in their petition their business has no other available water source. Petitioner Debra Curtis notes that Web Rural Water won’t provide her service because Web is maxed out.

  9. Donald Pay 2023-08-22

    Nick asks important questions that should be answered. There is ample evidence in general that if water discharged is higher in temperature than the receiving water, there will be some impact to the biota. Prediction about what that impact will be requires some study of the receiving water to know what’s there. The impacts, of course will depend on the season in which discharges are made.

    I spent some time chest deep in a wetland impacted by discharges from the cooling towers of a coal-fired power plant. Our efforts went toward documenting vegetation changes. I also did lab work on how carbohyrdate storage in the rhizomes of cattails (Typha latifolia) was affected by warm water discharges. Yeah, the warm water did affect the storage of carbohyrates, especially over winter, which led to eventual decline of cattails as a result.

  10. jerry 2023-08-22

    All roads lead to the ETSI pipeline, one of the first large scale corruption of our most valuable resource, water. Water is life, we cannot forget that ever. This project will line the pockets of a few at the expense of all. Smother this snake in it’s crib.

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