New water tank replaces 1 that collapsed as Madison seeks state money for pipeline



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MADISON, South Dakota — Six months after the 6,500 residents of the eastern South Dakota town of Madison were forced to limit water usage for two days when a storage tank collapsed, a new above-ground tank is online and town leaders are lobbying for help on a long-term solution.

Crews have been dumping soil in the massive hole left by the 1 million gallon underground tank whose concrete-and-dirt roof collapsed Jan. 15 and contaminated the water. Schools canceled classes, and bottled water was trucked in. A day later, residents were allowed to start using water for showering and laundry, and by Jan. 17, water was deemed safe for all purposes.

"We were within hours of draining the towers and running the system dry," city engineer Chad Comes said. "Our best bet was to ask for no use, and our citizens did."

The new 1 million gallon tank and an adjoining pump station already were part of a planned $3.5 million upgrade to the city's water system, he said. The big issue now is finding a quality, reliable supply of water to replace the city's current wells that are susceptible to drought and contamination, Comes said.

The long-term plan is a 42-mile pipeline to the Lewis & Clark Rural Water System that will deliver Missouri River water to 20 towns and rural water systems in South Dakota, Minnesota and Iowa. Madison will be the last South Dakota connection.

Until then, Madison wants to connect with the nearby Big Sioux River Community Water System Inc., Comes said. That line eventually would tie into Lewis & Clark, he said.

Federal funding for Lewis & Clark has fallen short, but the state Legislature has stepped in to help, Comes said. It approved $1 million from a fund set up for such projects to cover the cost of engineering and land easements for the Madison to Big Sioux connection and also a section of Lewis & Clark that will run from Sioux Falls to Crooks to serve Minnehaha County Water Corp.

Representatives from both projects are talking to state officials about seeking $7 million in the next legislative session for construction of the two pipeline links, said Troy Larson, executive director of Lewis and Clark.

That state money — the $1 million and the $7 million, if approved — isn't from the general fund and would be repaid as federal funding is available, Larson said.

Gov. Dennis Daugaard met with representatives of the projects this week. He didn't commit to further funding but does support the project, spokeswoman Kelsey Pritchard said in an email.

"We're asking for a huge favor here," Larson said.

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