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'If Mitchell wants to grow, we need more water,' says mayor as city explores secondary water source

Mayor Bob Everson said the city is getting close to reaching its maximum capacity of daily water usage provided by B-Y Water District, the lone source supplying Mitchell with water.

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Water flows from a spout.
Republic
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MITCHELL — For Mitchell to grow, it needs more water capacity.

Mayor Bob Everson said the city is getting close to reaching its maximum capacity of daily water usage provided by B-Y Water District — the lone source supplying Mitchell with water from the Missouri River. That’s why city leaders are exploring options to potentially add a secondary water source through the Randall Community Water District in Lake Andes.

“We are contracted to buy around 2.6 million gallons of water per day, and we increase that in the summer to around a little over 4 million gallons per day. But the pipe is only big enough to carry a certain amount of water, and we’re getting to the point where we may not be able to carry enough water through the pipe here as things develop and grow like we hope,” Everson said, adding that lacking a secondary water source is “stunting Mitchell’s growth.”

The Mitchell City Council’s approval of the city’s letter of intent to explore utilizing Randall Community Water District for a secondary water source has city officials weighing other options as well, including the city building its own water plant and pipeline along the Missouri River in Chamberlain. But Everson said the city taking on its own water district that would entail building a pipe from the river town to Mitchell could hover above $100 million, a price tag he dubbed as “not very feasible.”

“It would take a lot for that to happen. I don’t see that happening,” Everson said of the city building a Chamberlain water plant.

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Another option Everson said the city could explore is calling on B-Y Water District in Tabor to build a second pipe that transports water to Mitchell.

Among the handful of options, Everson said connecting with the Randall Community Water District appears to be a good contender. Everson said the district’s facility improvements have made it an even more appealing option to pursue.

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The Randall Community Water District, led by Manager Scott Pick, center, was named the top rural water district in the state last year.
Republic

“They are providing water all the way to Stickney right now, and they also provide water for Davison Rural Water customers. If they brought a little bigger line to Stickney, we could transport water from the town of Stickney (a small community about 29 miles west of Mitchell),” Everson said.

Considering B-Y Water District supplies Mitchell with Missouri River water through one large pipe, Everson said securing a secondary source from a different water district like Randall’s could position the city to have a legitimate backup source in the case of a catastrophic event disrupting the sole B-Y pipeline.

“If B-Y had something catastrophic happen to the pipe that carries our water, we wouldn’t have water aside from a few days of backup in the water storage tanks. The appealing thing with Randall is that it would be a backup if such an emergency situation like that happened,” he said.

Like B-Y Water District, the Randall Community Water District supplies its cities in southeast South Dakota with water from the Missouri River. The district also has two intake structures and water treatment plants — one near Pickstown and the other southwest of Platte.

The district tied the two plants together a few years ago to provide an ample supply of water in the event one of the plants goes down, according to general manager Scott Pick.

The district serves customers in portions of Aurora, Bon Homme, Brule, Douglas and Hutchinson counties in southeast South Dakota. It also supplies water to 15 bulk users, including area towns, the Yankton Sioux Tribe, Aurora-Brule Rural Water and Davison Rural Water.

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Everson said securing a secondary water source is overdue, noting it should have been done more than five years ago.

Council member Jeff Smith highlighted Mitchell as one of few larger sized cities in the state lacking a secondary water source, calling it a “pretty prudent” move to consider for the future.

With a handful of new housing developments in Mitchell getting underway, Everson said time is also of the essence in securing a secondary water source.

“If Mitchell wants to grow at the pace of other top 10 largest cities in the state, we need to look at how we’re going to add more water capacity,” he said.

Sam Fosness joined the Mitchell Republic in May 2018. He was raised in Mitchell, S.D., and graduated from Mitchell High School. He continued his education at the University of South Dakota in Vermillion, where he graduated in 2020 with a bachelor’s degree in journalism and a minor in English. During his time in college, Fosness worked as a news and sports reporter for The Volante newspaper.
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