Issues between city and B-Y Water emerge, as Mitchell mayor says entity has made threats of water shutoffs

Mayor Bob Everson said officials with B-Y Water District have threatened the city that it would shut water supply off at times when Mitchell exceeds the maximum daily capacity

A large tank sits in front of the city of Mitchell's water treatment plant. The city treats water supplied from B-Y Water District at the plant.
Sam Fosness / Republic

MITCHELL — Mitchell Mayor Bob Everson refuted some comments made by the leader of B-Y Water District who recently told the Mitchell Republic that the entity can supply the city with adequate water amid growing demands.

During Monday’s Mitchell City Council meeting, Everson spoke out about issues he says the city has come up against when Mitchell exceeds its maximum daily capacity of water that’s supplied through B-Y Water District in Tabor. Everson’s comments come as the city is pursuing a $60 million secondary water source with Fort Randall Community Water District to increase Mitchell’s maximum daily water capacity, which the city has been exceeding more frequently.

“One thing that has been brought up is the secondary water source, and that B-Y can provide water. B-Y cannot provide water … Not without a $40 million improvement to their piping near Tripp,” Everson said.

In an early February interview with the Mitchell Republic, Terry Wootton, general manager of B-Y Water District said he didn’t see any issues hampering B-Y to supply Mitchell with the growing demand of water in the future as long as system improvements are done. B-Y is the city’s sole supplier of water.

“In the 20 years we’ve been supplying Mitchell, there’s never been a day we couldn’t supply water. I don’t see any issue with that going forward for the future,” Wootton said in early February. “As every system grows, additional things need to be done to supply additional water. Whether it’s pumps or additional lines.”


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While city leaders are pursuing a multimillion-dollar secondary water source, an official with B-Y Water District says it can meet growing daily water demands.

In recent discussions about the pursuit of a secondary water source, city officials corroborated that B-Y has never refused to supply Mitchell with water when the city exceeded its maximum daily capacity. However, Everson provided more details Monday about what he says the city has experienced with B-Y when requests for water exceeding the maximum daily capacity are made.

Everson said officials with B-Y Water District have “gone as far threatening” the city that it would shut water supply off at times when Mitchell exceeds the maximum daily capacity of 2.6 million gallons per day.

“Whether they’ll (B-Y Water) admit it or not, apparently they won’t. They call and say, ‘If you don’t reduce it, we’re going to turn the valve off,’” Everson said.

According to Public Works Director Joe Schroeder, Mitchell pays a higher rate for any amount of water that exceeds the 2.6 million gallons per day capacity. In recent years, Schroeder said the city exceeds its daily capacity roughly 25% of the year, which occurs primarily in the summer months.

The growing demands of water has led city leaders to pursue adding another water source that would expand capacity.

Among the options that Schroeder presented to city council members in mid-January were building a pipe to connect with Fort Randall Community Water District, expand facilities with B-Y Water, upgrading the Lake Mitchell Water Treatment Plant to use lake water or building a pump station along the Missouri River in Chamberlain.

City officials recommended building a pipe to connect with Fort Randall Community Water for $60 million, which would give Mitchell a secondary source of water from the Missouri River.

While utilizing B-Y Water for an additional source is the cheapest option on the table coming in at $40 million, Schroeder explained that it would make the city reliant on one water supplier with one pipeline. By choosing Fort Randall Water, Schroeder said it would provide an additional 2.5 millions gallons of water per day and give the city a safety net if any emergency breakdowns or catastrophic events disrupted B-Y Water District’s facility and pipeline.


"I’m sympathetic to all those who are struggling with this looming rate increase, but I also want to emphasize this is what it’s going to take to keep water running," Councilwoman Susan Tjarks said

“There would be the possibility for more. We would be looking at 38 miles of transmission line from their plant near Platte to Stickney. Twenty to 60 years from now, I don’t think anybody would say we made a bad choice,” Schroeder said of pursuing Fort Randall Water during a January council meeting.

B-Y has been Mitchell’s sole water supplier since 2003. The city switched from using Lake Mitchell as its water source in 2003 and entered into a long contact with B-Y Water, which has provided residents with much cleaner Missouri River water since.

Despite the alleged issues that have surfaced, Mitchell will continue utilizing B-Y as a water source, as the city’s contract with B-Y extends into 2050.

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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