GANJE: Water or beer – you choose | Opinion

david ganje

I didn’t realize this until long after I left college: water is more sought after in the state than beer.

The number of state applications for water use permits filed with the state of South Dakota nearly tripled between 2019 and 2021. I contend that the number of new applications will remain high for years to come. How does the application process work? Let’s look at some of the basics.

Under South Dakota law, all water within the state is owned by the people of the state, but the right to use the water may be acquired through appropriation. “Appropriation” for use of a larger amount of water is authorized through a state application process, unless the place of use is on Indian Country or federal land, in which case the water use process may take longer. another route.

Under a water assignment, the state Water Management Board or its chief engineer grants authorization for a so-called private beneficial use (but the process includes government applicants) of the state’s water resources. Allocations apply to groundwater or surface water. The reader will note that South Dakota has no laws or regulations regarding rainwater harvesting. Colorado does.

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A water right permit, if approved, is issued as a new water use or as an acquired water right for an existing water use (prior to March 2, 1955). A water appropriation permit is required for all water uses in South Dakota, except for certain domestic water uses. However, even domestic water use requires a permit if water use exceeds 25,920 gallons per day or a maximum pumping rate of 25 gallons per minute. The following types of water use require a water permit, assuming the use is from a private water supply rather than a water distribution system. If served by a water distribution system that uses more than 18 gallons per minute, the water distribution system needs to obtain a water right permit on behalf of the users of the water system:

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  • Commercial uses such as tourist attractions, truck stops, restaurants, campgrounds, motels, or any other type of business.
  • Industrial uses where the water is used for processing, cooling, dehydration, etc.
  • Institutional uses such as churches, correctional facilities, etc.
  • irrigation use
  • Municipal use (over 18 gallons per minute)
  • Rural water system usage (greater than 18 gallons per minute)
  • Suburban housing development use (over 18 gallons per minute)
  • recreational use
  • Fish and wildlife propagation.

What does the permitting process require as Information? The basic concepts are as follows:

1. identify the water source;

2. the amount of water to claim;

3. the locations of the diversion points;

4. the annual period during which the water can be used; Y

A project map is generally required for both irrigated and non-irrigated projects showing the proposed location of the diversion point, lands to be irrigated, names of owners (if not the applicant signing), and other information relevant. The Application must be signed by one of the following: Registered Surveyor, Registered Professional, or any government employee who normally prepares maps as part of his or her assigned duties.

Of course, an application fee is required. And complementary information, such as the storage capacity of any water reservoir infrastructure. The application process is the same whether the water source is surface or groundwater, except in the case of groundwater, the applicant may be required to submit a test well or well log.

The chief state engineer may request that the applicant complete a soil/water test if the chief engineer believes a soil/water compatibility issue may exist. The state also processes several other types of applications that may be required for certain irrigation projects, including applications to: 1) modify existing permits or entitlements, 2) set aside water for future use, 3) control flooding or modify watercourses, and 4) claim acquired rights water rights The same procedure is used for the processing of each type of request.

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David Ganje practices natural resources, environmental and business law at the Ganje Law Office. His website is

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