May 23 2008
Recent moisture in the northern Black Hills has allowed the state Department of Environment and Natural Resources to rescind shutoff orders to two junior water right holders along the Belle Fourche River upstream of the Belle Fourche Reservoir diversion dam.
The Belle Fourche Reservoir is currently at 99 percent of storage capacity. The junior water right holders were notified on Friday, May 23, that a March shutoff order had been rescinded. The reservoir was at 54.3 percent of storage capacity when the shutoff was ordered in March.
South Dakota water law is based on the prior appropriation doctrine, which means the most senior water rights on a particular stream have priority based upon date to available water supplies over the junior priority date water rights. State water law authorizes DENR and the Water Management Board to issue water right permits to people who want to put water to beneficial use, such as irrigation, municipal water supply, or commercial use. Although the junior priority water right holders are subject to shutoff orders, state water right law gives domestic use of water from rivers and streams the highest priority. Domestic use includes livestock watering and is not subject to shutoff orders.
The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, with a 1904 priority date, holds senior water rights for the Belle Fourche Reservoir.
Shutoff orders also issued in March to 50 junior water right holders along the Cheyenne River and tributaries upstream of Angostura Reservoir remain in effect. Angostura is currently 62 percent full. These shutoff orders will remain in place until Angostura Reservoir fills.
For more information on river flows in South Dakota, visit sd.water.usgs.gov and click on “Real-Time Water Data.” Information can also be obtained by calling DENR’s Water Right Program at 1-800-GET-DENR or visiting www.state.sd.us/denr/des/waterrights/waterprg.htm.