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Cheyenne River Upgrading Water Treatment Plant

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USDA funding is helping upgrade a water treatment plant near Eagle Butte.  The move ensures about 14-thousand people on and around the Cheyenne River Reservation have a more reliable water source.

The Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe draws water out of the Cheyenne and Missouri Rivers.  But the old treatment plant and series of pipes to distribute water was prone to break down. Leaving thousands with no water—sometimes for several days at a time.  

Tim Potts is with USDA’s Rural Development.

“Actually economic development has been stunned because they could not actually build houses or develop any further in Eagle Butte, and this water system that we hope to have water to Eagle Butte in in 2017 is going to be a huge benefit for the area," says Potts.

Others agree.  Leo Fischer is the executive director of the Tri-County water system. He says the new facility quadruples the plant's capacity and efficiency. He also says weather conditions should not affect new treatment operations.                                                                                                                                     

“When the Cheyenne runs, we have a tough time treating that water out of that lake, so we have to slow it down," says Fischer. "If we get any heavy rains or even a nice wind storm will stir the water up so bad that we have to slow our treatment process down from where we’re at right now, but hopefully we’ll be out of that very soon.”

Fischer adds that the reservation has used a temporary line to the new intake structure fourteen miles away, but he says even that water was higher quality than current conditions. He hopes in the coming year to see benefits for livestock, families and overall development.