824 N.W.2d 429 (S.D. 2012), 26367, Krsnak v. South Dakota Dept. of Environment and Natural Resources

Docket Nº:26367.
Citation:824 N.W.2d 429, 2012 SD 89
Opinion Judge:WILBUR, Justice.
Party Name:Jimmy KRSNAK and Linda L. Krsnak, Appellants, v. SOUTH DAKOTA DEPARTMENT OF ENVIRONMENT AND NATURAL RESOURCES, Steven M. Pirner, Department Secretary and Staff, In Their Official Capacities, Appellees.
Attorney:Jay M. Leibel of Issenhuth & Leibel, LLP, Madison, South Dakota, Attorneys for appellants. Marty J. Jackley, Attorney General, Patricia Archer, Assistant Attorney General, Pierre, South Dakota, Attorneys for appellees.
Judge Panel:GILBERTSON, Chief Justice, and KONENKAMP, ZINTER, and SEVERSON, Justices, concur.
Case Date:December 12, 2012
Court:Supreme Court of South Dakota
 
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Page 429

824 N.W.2d 429 (S.D. 2012)

2012 SD 89

Jimmy KRSNAK and Linda L. Krsnak, Appellants,

v.

SOUTH DAKOTA DEPARTMENT OF ENVIRONMENT AND NATURAL RESOURCES, Steven M. Pirner, Department Secretary and Staff, In Their Official Capacities, Appellees.

No. 26367.

Supreme Court of South Dakota.

December 12, 2012

Argued Nov. 7, 2012.

Page 430

[Copyrighted Material Omitted]

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[Copyrighted Material Omitted]

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Jay M. Leibel of Issenhuth & Leibel, LLP, Madison, South Dakota, Attorneys for appellants.

Marty J. Jackley, Attorney General, Patricia Archer, Assistant Attorney General, Pierre, South Dakota, Attorneys for appellees.

WILBUR, Justice.

[¶ 1.] The Krsnaks sought a writ of mandamus to stay or rescind the Department of Environment and Natural Resources' (DENR) approval of the plans and specifications for the Brant Lake Sanitary District project. The Krsnaks claim DENR did not meet the requirements contained in statutes, administrative rules, and internal manuals. The trial court denied the writ of mandamus. The Krsnaks appeal. We affirm.

FACTS AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

[¶ 2.] The Brant Lake Sanitary District was organized under SDCL chapter 34A-5 to provide a wastewater system for 235 residents and businesses near Brant Lake in Lake County, South Dakota. On March 26, 2012, DENR approved plans and specifications for the Brant Lake Sanitary District's wastewater treatment facility (Brant Lake facility) in accordance with SDCL 34A-2-27(1). Residents and businesses near Brant Lake currently utilize private septic systems to handle their wastewater disposal. The Brant Lake facility plans propose to join and expand the Chester Sanitary District's existing wastewater disposal system.

[¶ 3.] Chester's current treatment system consists of two cells or lagoons covering approximately eight acres. In order to accommodate the increased flow of wastewater from Brant Lake, the plans include the construction of an additional treatment lagoon, which will tie into the existing two-cell lagoon system. Further, the plans include the construction of additional piping to transport wastewater to the treatment lagoons.

[¶ 4.] Chester's existing wastewater disposal system operates under a surface water discharge permit that was previously

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issued by DENR under SDCL 34A-2-36. Currently, the water discharge from the Chester facility flows into Skunk Creek, a tributary of the Big Sioux River. Once the Brant Lake facility is completed, discharge will continue to flow into Skunk Creek. Because the Brant Lake facility is an add-on to the Chester facility, there are no pending applications for any state-issued environmental permits by the Brant Lake Sanitary District. However, when the Chester surface water discharge permit comes up for renewal, the application permit will include the Chester and Brant Lake facility in its entirety.

[¶ 5.] Jimmy and Linda Krsnak reside in Lake County where they operate a vegetable farm called " Linda's Gardens." The Krsnaks' home and business are near the proposed lagoon. The Krsnaks assert that the raw sewage from the Brant Lake and Chester facility will enter the lagoon closest to the Krsnaks' home, potable well, and business. The Krsnaks estimate that their well is approximately 1000 feet from the lagoon and that their home is approximately 1090 feet from the lagoon. Water from the Krsnaks' well is consumed by the Krsnaks and their employees, is used for the irrigation of vegetable fields, and is used to clean and hydrate vegetables prior to sale. Accordingly, the Krsnaks have opposed both the Chester and Brant Lake facilities.

[¶ 6.] After DENR approved the plans for the Brant Lake facility, the Krsnaks filed an application for a writ of mandamus with the trial court on April 23, 2012. The application sought a writ ordering DENR to " stay the approval of the [Brant Lake Sanitary District] project until all requirements of the [internal manuals], administrative rules and law have been met." On the same day, the trial court entered an alternative writ of mandamus directing DENR to show cause why a permanent writ of mandamus should not issue. On May 2, 2012, the trial court filed an amended alternative writ of mandamus ordering the parties to appear on May 14, 2012, for a hearing on DENR's anticipated motion to quash.

[¶ 7.] On May 4, 2012, DENR filed a motion to quash the amended alternative writ of mandamus. The trial court held a hearing on May 14, 2012, and issued a bench decision denying the Krsnaks' request for mandamus relief. The Krsnaks appeal on the following issue: Whether the trial court abused its discretion in denying the writ of mandamus requiring DENR to comply with applicable South Dakota statutes, administrative rules, and DENR internal guidelines in approving the plans and specifications for the Brant Lake facility.

STANDARD OF REVIEW

[¶ 8.] " This Court reviews the decision to grant or deny a writ of mandamus under an abuse of discretion standard." Grant Cnty. Concerned Citizens v. Grant Cnty. Bd. of Comm'rs, 2011 SD 5, ¶ 6, 794 N.W.2d 462, 464 (citing Vitek v. Bon Homme Cnty. Bd. of Comm'rs, 2002 S.D. 45, ¶ 5, 644 N.W.2d 231, 233). " An abuse of discretion refers to a discretion exercised to an end or purpose not justified by, and clearly against reason and evidence." Argus Leader v. Hagen, 2007 SD 96, ¶ 7, 739 N.W.2d 475, 478 (quoting Schafer v. Deuel Cnty. Bd. of Comm'rs, 2006 SD 106, ¶ 4, 725 N.W.2d 241, 243). Further, " [s]tatutory interpretation and application are questions of law that we review de novo." State v. Goulding, 2011 SD 25, ¶ 5, 799 N.W.2d 412, 414.

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