'Not Me' Disease

Several years ago, my lovely bride and myself took a canoe and went down the Big Sioux River, from Sioux Falls to Canton. When we would come up to a obstacle, we would stop, and look from the shore, before deciding weather or not try to go through it, or portage around it. When it came to low head dams, we would go always around. Some places had a nice trail to follow and some, we blazed own.  Low-head dams are just plain dangerous to anyone floating down a river.

I have often wonder why they were build in the first place. More importantly, if they are so dangerous, why doesn’t someone take them out, or break them up.

As a general rule if you build something, you’re responsible for it. The problem comes when the entity is longer around to take care of a structure?

Many date to the early days of settlement. They are the legacy of lumber and gristmills, small hydropower plants and ice harvesting ventures that long ago passed into history. Others were built as public works projects during the Great Depression.

Peter Harriman explores ownership and who should take responsibtly of the dams July 25 edition of the Argus leader.

There seems to be a nasty ‘Not Us’ or ‘Not Me’ disease going around.

Ken McFarland, administrative officer for the Minnehaha County Commission, said commissioners don’t think they have any authority over low-head dams in the county.

onward and upward….

Sara Rabern, spokeswoman for the South Dakota Attorney General’s office, said if ownership of a dam can be determined, its regulation can be assigned to an agency.

Most likely anyone who might remember why the dam in the first place was built has passed away. A little hard to establish ownership when why it was built can’t be determined.

That leaves the Corps of Engineers.

Another irony surrounds the dams on the Big Sioux River. As a tributary of the Missouri River, the Big Sioux ultimately is the responsibility of the corps.

Did you really believe the Corps would take responsibility? They won’t even accept responsibility for their own problems.

At one time there was a canoe/kayaking club who was trying to create a canoe trail from Sioux Falls to Sioux City. Part of this trail included sign and portage trails around such things as low head dams. I know they have some success and are continuing to work on it.

So here we are. There a clear man-made danger, in the river, that has taken lives. Everyone thinks something should be done, however no one wants to take responsibility for it, and thinks someone else should deal with it.

An idea, stop pointing fingers; have each entity, city, county, state and federal each put up 25% of the cost to remove it, and just get it done.

16 Replies to “'Not Me' Disease”

  1. larry kurtz

    Somebody owns the irrigation rights and diverts that water only to replace it farther downstream with ag runoff. The corps and the USGS are virtually powerless to do anything about it. Remember that the water above the Big Sioux goes into a reservoir first where it generates power.

    If Hyperion is allowed to drill wells you can bet that the Big Sioux will be drier than a popcorn fart in no time. Those irrigators may be South Dakota’s only hope to stop the refinery.

  2. Donkephant

    Wait, as in you’d support Congresswoman Noem supporting an (duh, duh, dunnn) earmark for her home state? I think it’s a good idea-just surprised you suggested it.


    I assumed the Corps would take responsibility for them. From what I know the Big Sioux isnt classified as navigable by the Feds except for south of Sioux Falls to the Missouri so maybe they dont consider the Baltic Trent and Dells dams their jurisdiction but Im sure they are the ultimate authority for everything else. They should be removed but dont expect any help from the feds, only a bunch of redtape.

  4. grudznick

    My young friend Mr. Sibson should be allowed to post. This place could use some ratings, and Sibby = Ratings.

    1. MC Post author

      Ratings !?! Bah! I could care less about ratings. Yes, I know they help pay the bills. When we start chasing ratings, we will lose. I would much rather lose a rating because of my opinions then be on top by a gimmick.

      This blog is more about what is right, and preserving what few freedoms we have left and ensuring opportunities or our children.

      I will post my opinion, and invite well thought out comments that a relative to the topic at hand. (I know I let some topics just go) I have very little control over who is banned and who isn’t. Even if I did, I wouldn’t lift a ban just for the sake of ratings.

  5. PlanningStudent

    @Larry Kurtz FYI

    Hyperion has been clear in their intention through published material, land purchases and public hearings that they intend on taking their water from wells along the Missouri River near Elk Point and returning left over water to a man mad lagoon in the same area.

  6. larry kurtz

    Slowing the Big Sioux recharges aquifers. When Hyperion sinks their wells thank those low head dams.

    1. MC Post author

      Nope. It would have go through the same budget process as everything else. Let it be debated, in the open. None of this ‘just slip this in’ just before the vote.

  7. SDMike

    Typical knee-jerk reaction – someone gets hurt/killed and now we have to do something about it – maybe if we would realize that people do stupic thinks and we can’t change everything because of what they do – as I tell my family its the cleansing of the shallow end of the gene-pool. The dams have been there for more then 18 years (the life time of the guy who drowned) so its his responsibility to know better and not some government entity to have to make a major legislative change.


    PS: These drownings have been going on for over 50 years – my neighbor kid when I was growing up basically did the same thing at the Milltown (note the name) dam. Humans do stupid things and you can’t fix stupid!!!


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