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Water lines leaking millions of gallons yearly in Hideaway Hills

Three years ago, residents of suburban Rapid City development Hideaways Hills learned the exact feeling of losing their homes to a sinkhole. Now, new reports say local conditions won’t get any better any time soon.

New testing done by the Northdale Sanitary District, based in Blackhawk, found utility lines beneath the neighborhood are actively leaking millions of gallons of water and wastewater into the soil yearly.

The sanitary service conducted these tests in the summer of 2022 and spring of this year, placing video cameras in the pipework beneath the neighborhood.

The findings show water lines have been meaningfully disrupted by the sinkhole. Those lines are now leaking an estimated 28,000 gallons of water and wastewater daily - well over 10 million gallons a year.

Beyond any environmental concern, that level of leakage is causing the already buckled soil to weaken further. As a result, that could potentially contribute to future collapses.

The neighborhood, built atop a decommissioned gypsum mine, first came into focus after a massive sinkhole formed on Daisy Drive in 2020. That sinkhole was serious enough to force the evacuation and condemnation of the homes, tanking the local land value.

That motivated 158 homeowners to file a lawsuit against the state of South Dakota. The findings of this test were made public this week as a result of ongoing litigation.

The homeowners are represented by the national Fox Rothschild law firm in the case – Andrew Morse and John and Emily Clark et al V. State of South Dakota. The coalition of homeowners have sued to determine the states liability and possible damages to the families that purchased homes on land essentially impossible to sell. That court date is scheduled for next year.

Sections of the development remain fenced off and condemned three years after the initial collapse, and prior studies found every single house in the development remains entirely uninhabitable.

C.J. Keene is a Rapid City-based journalist covering the legal system, education, and culture