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Published September 17, 2012, 10:42 AM

Too much water versus too little water

South Dakota Gov. Dennis Daugaard recently activated his drought taskforce in the wake of the drought that has gripped a large portion of South Dakota.

By: Watertown (S.D.) Public Opinion, Agweek

WATERTOWN, S.D. — South Dakota Gov. Dennis Daugaard recently activated his drought taskforce in the wake of the drought that has gripped a large portion of South Dakota.

The latest U.S. Drought Monitor Map shows about 61 percent of South Dakota is in severe or extreme drought. The hardest-hit areas in South Dakota are in the southwest and the southeast.

Since drought is a naturally occurring event, there’s not much man can do to either prevent or solve it. So with those two options off the table, what can be done to help lessen its impact while helping those affected cope with its effects?

Here’s an idea we think is worth considering. We don’t know if it’s feasible, but there’s no harm looking into it, especially when the drought taskforce is meeting and, we presume, looking for ways to cope with the drought.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is in the process of trying to decide what to do with what it calls surplus Missouri River water. One proposal under consideration is to sell that water to users who would enter contracts with the corps to purchase “X” amount of water at “X” amount of dollars.

The Watertown (S.D.) Public Opinion has gone on record opposing that idea, saying the water already belongs to the people living in the states through which it flows.

So why not use that water to help those harmed by the drought? Why not see if we can find a way to get it from areas where there is a surplus of water to areas where there is a shortage? Would temporary pipelines or some form of trucking system be feasible to get excess water from the river to use in parched fields or watering livestock? Could it be stored in water towers, reservoirs or stock dams for use this fall, next spring or next summer if the drought continues?

Maybe we’re whistling in the wind with this suggestion and maybe there are state or federal regulations in place making such a move unlikely. But it seems that where you have excess water in once place and a shortage in another, there ought to be a way to solve both problems. Maybe it’s too late to find a solution this year, but what about future years when we could be faced with the same situation? Maybe there is a way to kill two birds with one stone.

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