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Custer, Black Hills communities receive DENR infrastructure loans
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Custer, Black Hills communities receive DENR infrastructure loans


Hideaway Hills subdivision homeowners will have a sanitary sewer main relocated after it was found to be in danger of falling into an abandoned gypsum mine.

The state Department of Environment and Natural Resources awarded the Northdale Sanitary District $440,000 to re-route a sanitary sewer force main and terminate a section of the gravity flow collection in the East Daisy Drive area.

A sinkhole to the mine opened in April 2020 in the area, the Journal previously reported. Four streets were built on top of the mine waste rock, which clogged sewer lines due to shifting earth. More than 40 people were displaced from 15 homes, and residents filed a lawsuit against the state of South Dakota asking for compensation.

The Northdale Sanitary District serves about 725 people with a $34 flat rate for sewer service. With the loan, the rate would increase to $40.10 a month.

Bryce Salisbury, a resident of the subdivision with a home on East Daisy Street, said he bought his house in July 2019. He said he didn’t know the sanitary district was applying for a loan.

He said the district told residents their water rates would increase to help repair the roads in the neighborhood.


Fracturing pavement lines a road in the Hideaway Hills neighborhood on Tuesday in Blackhawk.

“They already said they won’t put construction machines on Blue Belle, which is one of the worst streets over here,” he said. “The first year we lived here, they fixed it, then it was already back to the way it was.”

Salisbury said he feels like the sanitary district is trying to stay out of the public’s eye.

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“It’s hard to get straight answers from them,” he said.

He said it’s not a surprise to not have heard about the DENR loan from the sanitary district.

The City of Custer received a DENR loan for $1,539,000 to make wastewater improvements. According to the application, the existing force main experienced multiple breaks in recent months and is in critical condition.

Custer Mayor Corbin Herman said this loan is for the first of three phases in the improvements. The total project is estimated to cost $12 million.

The first phase will cost about $2 million with $961,610 coming from city local cash. The city anticipates bidding the project in the spring with completion in November 2021.

“This is a very immediate need,” Herman said. “We’re experiencing quite a few failures, mostly on discharge lines.”

He said the plant was originally built in the mid 1980s and has “far exceeded” its life expectancy. He said without the funding from the state, they wouldn’t be able to put a reliable line in place.

The line serves 2,277 people. Herman said the city plans to apply for future funds for the other two phases as well. Phase two will include an addition of a submerged growth attached to the reactor system, UV disinfection system installation, and control building modifications and improvements. Phase three will involve a new transfer and effluent lift stations.

Bear Butte Valley Water received $2,058,000 to make drinking water system improvements. The company is located just north of Sturgis.

The money will go to expanding the water system east to provide 24 new connections along Alkali Road for rural residential and livestock water demand. The project will be bid in May 2021 with construction completion anticipated for winter 2021. The system currently services 650 people.

Board president Bruce Weyrich said the 24 connections would be hooked up immediately after completion. He also said the company is pursuing funding through USDA Rural Development as well.

— Contact Siandhara Bonnet at

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