Missouri River: South Dakota’s Greatest Resource

  • Developed by the Corps of Engineers
  • Primary sponsor Colonel Lewis Pick, Upper Missouri River Division Engineer
  • 12 pages in length, relying on the 308 Report – $490 million
  • Focused on flood control and navigation
  • Developed by the Bureau of Reclamation
  • Primary Sponsor Bureau of Reclamation Engineer William Sloan
  • Started in 1939, exploring expanded irrigation to draw more people to the Missouri River Basin
  • 211 pages in length – $1.3 billion
  • Focused on reclamation and irrigation
  • Compromise sought by President Roosevelt on
    August 7, 1944
  • Signed into law December 22, 1944
  • Focused on flood control, navigation, irrigation, power,
    water supply, recreation, fish and wildlife, and water quality
  • In 2017 West Dakota Water Development District commissioned a study with South Dakota Mines on the value of renewing its 10,000 acre-feet/year Future Use Water Permit
  • In 2019 the South Dakota Mines report was completed and recommended renewal of the future use permit and further study on bringing Missouri River water to western South Dakota

Since no community can build the waterline alone, WDWDD asked for a scan of potential water users and determine if there was interest from other communities to explore a possible project to bring Missouri River water to West River. The answer was “yes!”

Calls made throughout Western South Dakota. Informational meetings were held, resulting in a next steps plan.

Communities, Tribes, and rural water systems met to explore working together to plan a collaborative project to deliver bulk water to western South Dakota.  A new non-profit, named Western Dakota Regional Water System, was formed and successfully applied to be listed on the State Water Plan.

Dec 2019
West Dakota Water Development District (WDWDD) receives South Dakota Mines Report

Mar 2020
WDWDD asks Banner Associates to start West River discussion to gauge interest

Dec 2020
WDWDD receives report to proceed with governance, technical evaluation, and funding

Jan 2021
WDWDD commissions Water Use Study
Asks for a new non-profit to be convened

Sep 2021
Western Dakota Regional Water System (WDRWS) Non-Profit is formed

Oct 2021
Water Use Study completed

Nov 2021
Names on the State Water Plan

Dec 2021
Water Summit
WDRWD First Annual Membership Meeting

Jan 2022
Submits Drinking Water Facilities Funding Application

APR 2022
WDRWS receives $8M, 100% American Rescue Plan Act Grant

Jan/Mar 2023
Met with water systems for data collection

Feb 2023
Congressional meeting during National Rural Water Association conference in Washington, DC

Mar 2023
WDRWS recieved $1M State Water Resources Management Systems grant

Western South Dakota is currently experiencing rapid growth in population and water needs, both of which are expected to double in the next century. In 2017 West Dakota Water Development District (WDWDD) was due to renew their Future Use Permit on the Missouri River for 10,000 acre-ft/year.  To better inform the decision to renew the permit, WDWDD commissioned South Dakota Mines (SDM) to conduct the research project, “Missouri River Water Allotment Study for Future Use Water Permit 1443-2.” The SDM study, completed in 2019, found current water demands in western Pennington County will exceed available water resources during an extended drought. The study’s authors included the following statement, “As population in the area increases, the need to ensure water security will grow ever greater. Therefore, local entities with a stake in our water security should pool their resources to ensure that they are proactive in securing future sources of water, one of which could involve water from the Missouri River.”  When WDWDD received this report, it committed funding to explore interest in western South Dakota to take action on this recommendation.

Concern about the potential lack of adequate future water supply prompted the creation of the Western Dakota Regional Water System (WDRWS) in September of 2021 to evaluate and plan for the long-term water needs of western South Dakota. Due to the area’s growing population and the unpredictable nature of future drought conditions, WDRWS is needed to ensure reliable ongoing access to drinking water in western South Dakota. Residents and businesses could experience sharp increases in water rates, extreme conservation measures, and limited economic development if an additional water source isn’t identified and developed soon. 

The SDM study included potential pipeline routes from the Missouri River at Pierre to western Pennington County, including alignments from Oahe Reservoir to Rapid City. WDRWS proposes to develop a water system to provide supplemental water supply from the Missouri River for municipalities, rural water systems, and Tribes. The WDRWS system will also incorporate concepts for conservation and to maximize existing West River water supplies. 

An initial canvassing effort began in 2022 to gauge interest in WDRWS participation in western South Dakota. The information gathered during the canvass will inform the project team on the location, timing, and quantity of water needed now and in the future.  

Ultimately, the participating users of the WDRWS will determine the service area, pipeline alignment, and overall infrastructure needs.

Western Dakota Regional Water System

Copyright WDRWS 2024

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