A nice glass of (Missouri River) water

South Dakota State Roundup

Published April 1, 2000  | April 2000 issue

With a shortage of reliable open water sources and aquifers, some cities in South Dakota are facing the threat of having to limit their economic development in the future if new water sources cannot be identified. For example, Sioux Falls officials have said existing water sources will be fully tapped by 2012.

That's why many cities are relying on the federal government to come through with the necessary funding for a 400-mile, $280 million pipeline to bring water from the Missouri River to 22 communities in southeastern South Dakota, Iowa and Minnesota. Local communities will pay part of the costs of the project—including an estimated $15 million by Sioux Falls—but the project largely rests on the willingness of the federal government to fund 80 percent of the cost. The matter is currently being considered for funding by Congress.

The state is in the midst of a $260 million rural water project in the south-central part. The Mni Wiconi project was authorized in 1988 to provide water to three Indian reservations and other communities. Its original completion deadline was 2003, but was recently revised to 2007 by the Bureau of Reclamation. With an estimated 4,500 miles of pipeline involved, the project will likely have to seek additional federal support to be completed, a local report stated.