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South Central watershed project receives $500K for improvement work

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Water flows rapidly underneath the James River bridge on Highway 18 just east of Olivet Tuesday morning. Record rainfall around Mitchell sent torrents of water down the river, impacting the day-to-day life of many local residents, including Hutterite colonies. (Erik Kaufman / Republic)

The state Board of Water and Natural Resources helped provide another chunk of funding toward the a watershed restoration project planned for southeastern South Dakota.

The board on Thursday approved $500,000 in grant funding to the James River Water Development District, which is leading the South Central Watershed Implementation Project.

That project is in the first segment of a $19.4 million, 10-to-15-year effort planned to work with private landowners and operators to implement best management practices to improve surface water quality in South Dakota. The work involved is taking place in the watersheds of Lewis and Clark Lake, the lower James River, and the Vermillion River. In all, the watersheds cover more than 6.5 million acres.

The goal is to reduce the total maximum daily load levels in the water bodies, as well as reduce sedimentation in Lewis and Clark Lake and the lower James River. The South Central project also assists in directing assistance to help solve feedlot waste runoff and other non-point pollution problems from grazing acres.

The funding for the project is coming from sources with the U.S. Department of Agriculture and Environmental Protection Agency programs, along with state sources and the JRWDD, as well. About $6.3 million will come from local entities as well.

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The watershed project includes all of Bon Homme, Davison, Douglas, Hanson, Hutchinson and Yankton counties; most of Aurora, Charles Mix, Clay, Jerauld, Miner, and Sanborn counties; and some of Lake, Minnehaha, Lincoln, Gregory, Todd and Tripp counties.

The project was part of nearly $47 million in water, wastewater, watershed and solid waste projects on Thursday. The largest share of the money went toward $41.6 million in wastewater treatment system improvements in Sioux Falls.

Traxler is the assistant editor and sports editor for the Mitchell Republic. He's worked for the newspaper since 2014 and has covered a wide variety of topics. He can be reached at mtraxler@mitchellrepublic.com.
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