South Dakota News Watch

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State officials scramble to respond after zebra mussels found in Lake Sharpe

Taxpayers could face millions in mitigation costs and restrictions on boaters could rise due to invasive mussel infestation recently discovered on second Missouri River reservoir.

Lake Sharpe has become the second major Missouri River reservoir in South Dakota to be infested with invasive zebra mussels, raising fears that millions of dollars in mitigation may be needed and that new restrictions could be placed on those who use the lake for boating, fishing and recreation. The infestation was announced in a news release from the state […]

Juvenile drug arrest rate high in S.D. despite reforms

State officials continue to refine efforts to reduce drug use and fight addiction

Over the past decade, South Dakota saw a significant increase in the number of juveniles arrested for drug crimes, and officials see few signs that the arrests will fall anytime soon despite recent reforms of the state juvenile justice system. According to state crime data, the number of youths arrested on drug charges such as possession, use and distribution nearly […]

Risk of death on S.D. highways jumps significantly during Fourth of July holiday

National and state data show higher levels of fatalities and alcohol-related fatalities on roadways during the holiday period, but law enforcement agencies step up patrols to reduce risks.

A new study proves what many drivers and law enforcement officials already believed: that the rate of highway fatalities, including alcohol-related fatalities, rises significantly during the annual Fourth of July holiday across the United States and even more so in South Dakota. The rate of highway deaths during the Independence Day holiday travel period in the U.S. rises by 27% […]

Aging S.D. dams creating potential for destruction


The last 12 months have been the wettest in South Dakota in more than a century and as a result, dams across the state have suffered significant damage, creating the potential for flooding, loss of life, destruction of property and the need for expensive repairs. Across South Dakota and the Great Plains, extensive snow melt and heavy rains have eroded […]

Governor to enact reform of youth treatment facilities

In response to news investigation, Noem orders reform of licensing and inspections

Gov. Kristi Noem has ordered the state Department of Social Services to enact a series of wide-ranging reforms intended to improve the safety of youths sent to privately run treatment facilities across South Dakota. The governor’s announcement came in response to an investigative report published June 5 by South Dakota News Watch that uncovered a decade-long pattern of physical, sexual […]

Residents suffer physical, mental and sexual abuse at S.D. youth home


Youths and young adults housed at the Aurora Plains Academy in Plankinton, S.D. have endured physical, mental and sexual abuse by employees amid an internal culture of secrecy and limited state government oversight, according to public documents and testimony from former residents and employees of the facility. A six-month investigation by South Dakota News Watch has revealed a pattern of […]

State medical community battling antibiotic-resistant illnesses

Efforts increase after two outbreaks of potentially deadly resistant disease in SD

South Dakota health officials are fighting an uphill battle to prevent the spread of potentially deadly infections that are increasingly resistant to antibiotics. The state in recent years saw a pair of outbreaks of CRE, an intestinal bacteria that is almost completely resistant to antibiotics and that has a mortality rate that can rise to 50 percent. Both South Dakota […]

Flooding damage and repair costs could linger in SD for years


Recent extreme weather — and possibly more to come — has caused flooding that decimated eastern South Dakota farms and its rural transportation network. As a result, significant costs await townships and counties that already face fiscal challenges, possibly leaving some roads never fully repaired. The recent blizzards and rainstorms that have flooded farm fields and decimated roads across South […]


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