DENR says Rapid City Regional Airport septic lagoon water is not contaminated

Rapid City Regional Airport's wastewater lagoon. (KEVN)

RAPID CITY, S.D, (KEVN) - Rapid City Regional Airport turned heads in August for dumping sewage water without a permit. Now, DENR says the water is not contaminated.

More than 74,000 gallons of sewage water was dumped in early August by the Rapid City Regional airport because the septic lagoon was overflowing. But the airport did it without a permit, causing a concern about environmental safety.

See related story Rapid City Regional Airport explains why it dumps sewage without permission

After the airport stopped with the water dumping, DENR staff along with an environmental contractor working for the airport, collected some samples from the wastewater lagoon and the results showed no contamination.

"And what the results showed was that the samples, the water quality of the samples would have been acceptable for land application had the airport followed the proper approval process," South Dakota DENR Environmental Scientist Manager Brian Walsh said.

Walsh said DENR staff who inspected the area at the airport said there was no evidence of runoff or impacts to any surface water body.

The airport filed for a surface water permit on August 14 with the DENR and it can take 30 to 60 days to be ready for public review.

"Part of this permitting process, there will be a 30 day public notice period where the public can submit comments and the DENR would have to respond and address any comments we receive," Walsh said.

At the end of the process, there is an opportunity for the public to challenge the issues of the permit if they would choose to do so.

There are two main flat areas on the north end of the airport's property that could eventually be deemed safe for wastewater release.

But in the meantime, the airport was instructed a temporary remedy by the DENR.

"They have requested that we divert some of the stormwater that has been running down towards the lagoon. So we are working with the FAA currently to get an environmental categorical exclusion to be able to do some water diversion ditches around the lagoon," Patrick Dame, Rapid City Regional Airport Executive Director, said.

According to Dame, he said last fall an environmental assessment started for this lagoon to find out what are some solutions to replace it. The study cost $205,556 and is being paid off by a grant from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).

Dame says the study can last one to two years.