RAPID CITY, S.D. (KELO) — About 74,100 gallons of sewage water was dumped on the northern end of the Rapid City Regional Airport’s property without permission from the South Dakota Department of Environment and Natural Resources.
A sewage lagoon is a large pond where water waste flows into. The Rapid City Regional Airport has one that is 55 years old located on its property.
“Now in the last two years, the wettest two years in the history of our state and so that and increased passenger traffic at the airports created a real concern with the lagoon, so in July they started pumping water off of the lagoon and taking it to a sewage site,” Mayor Steve Allender said.
These sites are flatland areas on the airport’s property. However, to dump waste water onto these sites requires permission from the DENR.
Patrick Dame, executive director of Rapid City Regional Airport, says the airport had a meeting with the DENR.
“We proceeded out of that meeting with a level of confidence that we could move to do this spreading onsite,” Dame said.
Somewhere along the line there may have been a lack of communication, and the waste water was dumped without legal permission.
“There may have been some confusion from the conversation about our level of urgency in where we were at with our lagoon and as we did the the first process of reducing the level of the lagoon with how rapidly it came back at us in filling up the second time we knew we needed to act and act quickly,” Dame said.
Now the DENR and the airport are working together to find a solution.
“They said almost every lagoon in the state is going through similar issues right now. From that standpoint they understand where we are at in the situation and are here to help. We’re partnering with them in the process and continuing to work through the lagoon related issues,” Dame said.
“It was either a misunderstanding or lack of communication or miscommunication, but they have applied for the permit now,” Mayor Allender said.
A strategic evironmental study has been going on since 2017 on the lagoon and how it can be replaced with something that works better. DENR spokesmen Brian Walsh said there is staff in the area working with the airport to get proper assesments done for a possible future permit to be approved.