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LETTER: State involvement nominal in local drainage

To the Editor:

I wanted to note two likely misstatements/misunderstandings in the report on the results of Wednesday's Davison County Commission meeting on changes to the county drainage ordinance.

1. "State law requires a drainage permit for all projects that drain water onto other properties." Drainage permits are not required by state law. However, if a county chooses to adopt a system of drainage controls under the authority in South Dakota Codified Law Chapters 46A-10A and 46A-11, as Davison County has done, then it "may adopt a permit system for drainage" (SDCL 46A-10A-30). Note that the language allows the county to decide whether or not to have permits, although I am hard pressed to envision a control system without them, or something similar.

2. "Under state law, starting a drainage project without approval is a misdemeanor punishable with civil fines of up to $1,000 a day." Again, the punishment referenced here is only applicable if the county has adopted local drainage controls, and then the responsibility would be on the county to enforce such actions.

As written, both statements imply that the state has a far greater role in local drainage management than is the case. SDCL Chapters 46A-10A and 46A-11 provide, at best, a nominal framework for the county to develop drainage management.