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History of West River Lyman Jones

Project history dates back to the early 1960’s. Separate groups in western South Dakota recognized the need for water that was sufficient in both quality and quantity. In the late 1970’s, a new project was proposed by a group called Energy Transportation Systems, Inc. The project became known as the ETSI Pipeline Project. The ETSI Project plans were to take Missouri River water though western South Dakota in a large diameter pipe to the coal fields of Wyoming and continue to transport the coal slurry to the gulf for processing. This was encouraging because ETSI planned to allow rural communities along the route to hook up to the water source. The ETSI Project met strong opposition and was not approved.

Shortly thereafter, the West River Water Development group decided to support and join the effort of the Lyman-Jones Water Development Association. In August of 1986, a Senate Power and Water subcommittee field hearing was held in the Kadoka auditorium. The auditorium was packed with supporters and it was at this meeting that the Oglala Sioux Tribe expressed their interest in the rural water system effort. After many trips to Washington, DC and with strong support of the South Dakota congressional delegation, the Mni Wiconi Act was signed into law on October 24, 1988.

Lyman-Jones and West River continued to work together and eventually limited each of their organizations to 5 directors. The first membership meeting was held in January 1991. The “Turn Some Dirt” celebration took place on October 11, 1993 in Wall to commemorate the beginning of project construction. A few months later in May 1994, the Lyman-Jones and West River water systems merged into one system and was named West River/Lyman-Jones Rural Water Systems, Inc.