Brown County hears follow-up request from DemKota to treat lagoon water, drain into Moccasin Creek

Elisa Sand
Aberdeen News

A request from DemKota Ranch Beef to run a pipe along 388th Avenue in order to drain treated water from its west lagoon has been tabled by the Brown County Commission.

Commissioners discussed the issue at Tuesday's regular meeting. The topic first came up at the board's April 26 meeting. During that discussion, Planning and Zoning Director Scott Bader said DemKota was seeking permission to run a pipe from one of its lagoons to Moccasin Creek. Commissioners took no action then as they felt the drainage of the lagoon required approval from the South Dakota Department of Agriculture and Natural Resources or the Environmental Protection Agency.

Luke Rodig, an environmental consultant with Burns and McDonnell, spoke at Tuesday's meeting. He appeared on behalf of DemKota to discuss drainage of the west lagoon, which is currently inactive. It holds approximately 40 million gallons of water and is in need of repairs.

"It's retained storm water and has recently been used for emergency discharge for four weeks," he said.

Rodig said the plan, which was approved by DANR Feb. 23, is to use mobile treatment units to treat the water in the lagoon so it can meet testing requirements and be pumped into nearby Moccasin Creek.

More:Demkota seeks permission to run pipe so lagoon can be drained into Moccasin Creek

Ideally, he said, DemKota wants to pump from June through October so the lagoon is empty by winter. The anticipated flow is 0.4 to 0.5 cubic feet per second, or about 450,000 gallons per day, he said.

Rodig said an alternative plan would be to run the pipe along private property to Moccasin Creek. The owner of that property, Nancy Upton, was at Tuesday's meeting and said she is worried about the impact the additional water could have on the creek.

As discussion continued, Commissioner Dennis Feickert said 388th Avenue is actually a township road.

"The township should be involved," he said. "If they don't want the pipe in their ditch, you have another issue."

Feickert also said adding water to an already full creek means the water will spread out and cause flooding.

When asked by the commission if the county has jurisdiction to allow the pipe, State's Attorney Ernest Thompson said he would have to gather more information.

"But my gut tells me that this probably goes more to the township than the county," Thompson said.

Warner Township Board member Darwin Bettmann said the beef processing plant on the south side of Aberdeen previously received permission from the township for pipes in the west ditch of 388th Avenue.

Commissioner Doug Fjeldheim said that with the request, DANR will be monitoring water quality, so that isn't something the county would be able to control. But, he said, there is a stream gauge monitoring water levels along Moccasin Creek. Maybe there should be a requirement that the water in Moccasin Creek be at a specific level before additional water can be pumped, he said.

Brown County Emergency Management Director Scott Meints said Moccasin Creek was running at 13 feet last summer. Currently, it's at 14.7 feet  But, he said, the gauge is only set up to monitor the level of the water. A flood stage hasn't been established.

County offered grant for pilot program

Brown County has been offered a $30,000 grant to set up a Court Resource Home Pilot Program.

Kelsi Vinger, diversion coordinator for the Brown County State's Attorney's Office, said the program would provide a detention alternative for juveniles and would involve identifying and licensing local families who would provide foster care for youth in the court system. The grant would also cover training for those foster families.

Vinger said the families who are already licensed foster families with the state Department of Social Services cannot be used in the new program.