SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (AP) - The number of irrigation permits is soaring in South Dakota, due to last year's drought and to lucrative market prices for corn, wheat and soybeans.

The state Department of Environment and Natural Resources approved 173 irrigation permits last year. So far this year it has issued 279, and 121 applications are pending. In the previous three years, the number was 65 or fewer.

Officials tell the Argus Leader newspaper that the rise in permit requests isn't a threat to the state's water resources. Ron Duvall with the Environment and Natural Resources department says state law stipulates that the use of groundwater can't exceed the amount of recharge. That means water users can't take more out of an aquifer over the course of a year than nature puts in.

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