The Edgemont region, the Black Hills, all of South Dakota: who owns the water that would circulate through a proposed uranium mine?

It's a sticking point in the contested state Water Management Board hearings over whether Powertech Uranium Corp. can build an in situ uranium mine near Edgemont.

The proposed mine needs permits to use water from the Inyan Kara and Madison aquifers. Mining opponents like Jim Petersen says the entire population of South Dakota should have a voice in determining whether that water should go toward mining.

"You people are talking about giving water rights for up to 20 years," Petersen said Tuesday morning during his testimony. "What does this area look like in 20 years?"

Powertech representatives in the past have said that only the Edgemont region should have a voice in how the water should be used. The company said most the water it uses will be recycled, with fewer that 200 gallons a minute consumed.

In between the those arguments lies the the Black Hills. Rapid City sits 90 miles from the proposed mine area. Ranchers like Mark ad Jennifer Belitz, as well as the Black Hills Wild Horse Sanctuary, are even closer, around 20 miles away.

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The Belitz family and the sanctuary are opposing the project.

For more on the Journal's coverage on uranium mining, visit www.rapidcityjournal.com/uranium

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