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Business & Economics

Report: SD's dams, water, bridges would benefit from infrastructure bill

Big Bend Dam at Fort Thompson in South Dakota.

A report card from the American Society of Civil Engineers says South Dakota would benefit from a new infrastructure bill.

The bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act would provide around $550 billion in new funding for roads, airports, public transportation and other infrastructure.

South Dakota has 90 high-hazard dams, according to the National Inventory of Dams. They would qualify for funding under the infrastructure bill.

Dam data
National Inventory of Dams
South Dakota has 90 dams with a "high" hazard potential.

Bridges are also eligible for funding. Nearly 18 percent of South Dakota's bridges are structurally deficient, according to the American Road and Transportation Builders Association. That's the fourth-highest rate in the country.

The bill would provide South Dakota with about twice the funding it usually receives from a wastewater project fund. It could also provide money for drinking water.

South Dakota needs $7.3 million in drinking water funding over the next 20 years, according to a 2015 study from the Environmental Protection Agency.

The White House also released a fact sheet. It says the bill will provide internet access to at least 27,000 South Dakotans, fund electric car charging stations, and help protect against climate change and cyberattacks.

The South Dakota, Rapid City and Sioux Falls chambers of commerce all support the bill, which they say will create jobs and economic growth.

Sen. John Thune voted against the bill because of its impact on the national debt. Sen. Mike Rounds was absent for the vote but said he does not support it due to progressive mandates in the bill.

Rep. Dusty Johnson told the Rapid City Journal that he's undecided. The House of Representatives votes on the bill later this month.

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