S.D. board OKs wells for Rockerville RV park

Capitol News Bureau
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PIERRE, S.D. (KELO) — A commercial park for recreational vehicles and cabin rentals planned in western South Dakota along the four-lane from Rapid City to Mount Rushmore National Memorial will get a state permit for two water wells.

The state Water Management Board approved an application Wednesday to allow R&J, LLC to take up to four acre-feet annually for its park planned at Rockerville.

One of the qualifications was the R&J wells can’t impair adequate domestic wells or other adequate wells in the immediate area.

Adam Mathiowetz, an engineer for the state water-rights program, recommended approval. He said the Crystalline Rock aquifers in the Black Hills were unpredictable and discontinuous, making them different than aquifers in eastern South Dakota.

Homeowners and businesses at Rockerville already have 10 state permits for wells, according to Mathiowetz. The nearest state monitoring well is more than 17 miles away, he said.

One of the R&J partners, Juston Eisenbraun of Quinn, testified that he and Robert Wentz of Sioux Falls intend to develop 86 RV spaces and 15 cabins.

If the two wells don’t produce the water, Eisenbraun said the project won’t happen. “We would go in a different direction,” he told the board.

William Hearne, a local homeowner, testified that more commercial use in a fragile area with unpredictable water will lead to nitrates exceeding the federal standard of 10 parts per million.

Hearne said the septic wastewater would contaminate other wells. “Nobody really knows where that goes because of the unpredictable nature,” he said. He added, “The size of this development dwarfs anything else in the area.”

Mathiowetz had previously testified that water quality isn’t part of the state office’s water-rights consideration.

Another local homeowner, Lon Buehner, said a large residential development with apartment buildings and town homes is planned nearby.

Eisenbraun previously told the board he didn’t know much about that plan.

Buehner, a retired oil-field engineer, said the numbers tell him there isn’t “un-allocated” water available.

Buehner said he found some 50 well-completion reports for the area, including many that weren’t part of Mathiowetz’s analysis. He said The Gaslight restaurant and lounge has been running without a permit.

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