PIERRE, S.D. (AP) - The number of irrigation permits being issued in South Dakota this year is at a level not seen since the mid-1970s. Drought is a common factor.

Department of Environment and Natural Resources spokesman Kim Smith tells the Capital Journal newspaper that as of Monday, the agency had issued 113 irrigation permits and 91 applications were pending. That compares with 62 permits issued last year and 43 in 2010.

Engineer Lynn Beck says drought is a reason for the high permit numbers. That also was the case in 1976 and 1977. South Dakota issued more than 500 irrigation permits in each of those years.

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