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Bill Could Change Water Rights

February 19, 2013, 8:08 AM by Austin Hoffman

Bill Could Change Water Rights
SIOUX FALLS, SD -

One bill that's receiving a lot of attention from South Dakotans is causing some disagreement between anglers and land owners. 

House Bill 1135 deals with the rights people have on water that's over private ground. It's aimed to help landowners, but many fishermen aren't happy.

“House Bill 1135 is one of the most anti-sportsman legislation that’s come along in a long time,” Professional fisherman Ted Takasaki said.

Takasaki is not very happy with what he sees in HB 1135. The bill pertains to non-meandered water, which are lakes and sloughs that weren't mapped or plotted around when South Dakota was surveyed.

"It basically says that any non-meandering waters are not able to be accessed by hunters or fisherman. When it comes to my access to hunting and fishing, I'm very passionate about that," Takasaki said.

The bill only pertains to lakes on private grounds that aren’t connected to lakes on public ground. The landowner could, and would have to, put up signs if they didn't want people to use that water.

“I don't know how you would either put signs, fences; there are multiple landowners that cross sections of the lake. It would be an absolute nightmare,” Takasaki said.

Water that has been continuously fished for 20 years also falls under what's called adverse possession and wouldn't be subject to this bill and would remain open to the public. However, Takasaki says that would be hard to prove.

“With water levels rising and lowering, there will be times when the public wouldn't make continuous use of a particular body of water.  Therefore it would be an impossible burden to prove that you've had continuous use,” Takasaki said.

The bill is scheduled to be in the Senate State Affairs Committee Wednesday morning at 10.

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