A dozen concerned citizens are calling for the South Dakota Department of Natural Resources to hold public forums when issuing any water permits for mining operations.
The group staged a protest outside of the DENR offices in Rapid City.
Carol Hayse presented a list of demands from the agency.
“We the citizens of Rapid City and the Black Hills demand that the South Dakota Environment and Natural Resources begin to fulfill its obligation to protect Rapid City’s watershed, and the Hill’s water supply from toxic mining activities,” Hayse says. “Further, we demand that the DENR solicit public input in relation to any and all mining activities that effect Black Hills water sources.”
Officials with the DENR temporary water rights permits are handled within the department. Permanent water rights go before a state water management board, with public input, for approval.
A Canadian company called Mineral Mountain Resources is exploring for gold in the Black Hills near the town of Rochford. The company has a temporary permit for 1.8 million gallons of water and are seeking another temporary permit.
That permit does not allow the company to use water for production mining.
As of the end of March, the company has used roughly 234,000 gallons of water.
According to the DENR website, "number of requests have been received by DENR requesting that the Chief Engineer either deny the application or defer issuance of the temporary permit to the Water Management Board to allow for a public hearing by the board. Administrative Rule of South Dakota 74:02:01:34 gives the authority to the Chief Engineer to defer issuance of a temporary permit and present the application to the Water Management Board for action.
As requested, the Chief Engineer is deferring the decision to the Board on this pending application. Therefore, the May 2 & 3, 2018, agenda of the Water Management Board includes an administrative item requesting the Board to set a date and location to consider the temporary permit application from Mineral Mountain Resources. The Chief Engineer will suggest the Board set a hearing date in Rapid City, but the Board will make the final decision on when and where to meet."