SD water board draws names to set order for next water rights

Farm Forum

PIERRE — Two Hutterian Brethren colonies won public drawings on May 7 putting them first in line if the state Water Management Board someday makes additional water for irrigation available from two aquifers in Spink and Beadle counties.

The board previously found the aquifers, the Tulare: East James and the Tulare: West James Hitchcock, to be fully appropriated, meaning no additional rights should be granted to draw water from them.

But a package of reforms approved by the Legislature in 2014 calls for the board to take a variety of steps regarding fully appropriated aquifers.

One is a review every five years to see whether there is additional water that can granted without exceeding the recharge rates. Another is conducting a lottery to set the order in which applications will be considered if the board decides it can allow more water to be taken from the aquifer.

The lotteries on May 7 for the two aquifers were the first conducted by the board.

It first needed to finish considering any applications that were filed before July 1, 2014, when the new laws took effect. The board finished those procedures on May 6 and 7, turning down all of the old requests.

Meanwhile, the state water rights division accepted applications from July 1, 2014, through noon on Feb. 25, 2015, to participate in the lotteries.

Fourteen new applications, all for irrigation, came in for the Tulare: East James aquifer. The Tulare: West James Hitchcock aquifer drew 28, all for irrigation.

Two more applications arrived Feb. 25, but after the noon deadline, according to Ron Duvall, who oversaw the lottery process.

“They came by email as I recall,” Duvall said.

An application from Collins Hutterian Brethren of Iroquois came out first in the Tulare: East James drawing. That means the colony will be first in line until it receives a right.

Each of the remaining applications for Tulare: East James then were drawn, one by one, with the order determining when their turns would come up in the future to be considered.

Riverside Hutterian Brethren of Huron became the first drawn of the 28 applications for the Tulare: West James Hitchcock aquifer. The other 27 then were drawn one by one to establish the rest of the order.

In the past, landowners competed to submit applications ahead of each other on the chance that water would become available.

“This process was created to remedy that,” Duvall told the board.

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