Panel grants water rights in Hanson, Custer counties

Farm Forum

PIERRE — The city of Custer can build a larger version of its local dam and the Rockport Hutterian Brethren get new irrigation rights from the James River that previously belonged to the city of Huron, the state Water Management Board decided Wednesday.

The state board canceled 14 water-rights permits because of discontinued use by landowners in different parts of South Dakota, including one dating to 1907 for a hydroelectric dam at Dell Rapids on the Big Sioux River whose works are now rubble.

Those 14 included two permits relinquished by the city of Huron. That freed enough water in the James River for the Rockport brethren to receive two irrigation permits that the state board deferred in spring 2015, because the river was nearly fully appropriated.

The board observes a maximum appropriation of 300 cubic-feet-per-second from the James River in South Dakota between the North Dakota border and the Hutchinson-Yankton counties line.

The Rockport brethren’s two applications totaled 8.31 cubic-feet-per-second from the James River in Hanson County. That amount was met by the Huron cancellations and 1.71 cubic-feet-per-second that hadn’t been appropriated that total 8.55 cfs.

The state board also decided to allow the Huron Hutterian Brethren to irrigate an additional 50 acres from the James River, without a change in the organization’s water rights. The Huron brethren’s operation is about 15 miles north of Huron. Changes to the irrigation system make the additional acres possible to reach.

Lynn Beck, a staff engineer for the state Department of Environment and Natural Resources, said there have been 12 shut-off orders on the James River since 1965 for insufficient flows.

Reconstruction of the Custer West Dam, which has water rights on French Creek dating to 1943, didn’t receive any opposition. The city wants to more than double the dam’s capacity size as part of replacing the dam and the outlet structures.

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