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South Dakota community leaders discuss water concerns

Mayors Derick Wenck, Arden Jones and Butch Oseby discuss regional development
Evan Walton
Mayors Derick Wenck, Arden Jones and Butch Oseby discuss regional development

Water issues are a concern shared by communities big and small.

At a Downtown Sioux Falls Rotary Club meeting, the mayors of Harrisburg, Crooks and Hartford all discussed the water needs facing their communities.

Although the panel conversation was about regional development, water became the focal point of discussion.

Water is a driving factor in the growth of rural area because a higher population puts strains on existing sewer systems and drinking water needs.

In South Dakota, many cities in the southeast use the Lewis and Clark Water System, a government-sponsored water system. Earlier this year the organization received federal funds to expand its water system.

Derick Wenck is the mayor of Harrisburg. He said the city needs more water than it currently receives.

“I mean you can grow and grow and grow but when you’re only getting 'x' amount of water from Lewis and Clark, you can only grow at a certain pace. The way we’re going in Harrisburg right now, we’re going to outpace our water supply,” Wenck said. 

He also said Harrisburg is looking into creating its own waterline and well to start selling water to other communities in the future.

Butch Oseby is the mayor of Crooks. He said water prices greatly impact South Dakotan communities.

“Water is going to be a big, big deal. It is now, but the price of water is gonna skyrocket. I can tell you, in the next five to 15 years we’ve all got to upgrade and it comes with a big cost when it comes to water,” Oseby said. 

Arden Jones is the mayor of Hartford. He said South Dakota is not the only area struggling with the issue.

“There’s going to be states that are going to be looking our direction, and I think we got to make sure we take care of that,” Jones said. 

He specifically mentioned states who get supply from the Colorado River.

Jackson Dircks is a Freeburg, Illinois, native. He is pursuing a degree in English, Journalism and Secondary Education at Augustana University and planning to graduate in May 2025. He plans to pursue a career in sports journalism.