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Environment

Sioux Falls official details efforts to improve Big Sioux River water quality

When Sioux Falls surveyed residents about sustainability concerns, many of the responses were about the Big Sioux River.

Holly Meier is the city's sustainability coordinator. She said the city and other groups are responding with projects to clean up the river and its watershed.

One project is a partnership called the Big Sioux River Greenway Cleanup.

“Volunteers have picked up over 20,000 pounds of trash, debris and recycling, and that’s a really huge deal," Meier said.

Meier was one of the presenters Tuesday at the ninth annual Big Sioux River Water Summit in Sioux Falls. The Big Sioux River originates in eastern South Dakota and flows south to the Missouri River, through cities including Sioux Falls.

The river is polluted by agricultural runoff, urban development and other sources.

“All of these issues from an environmental standpoint affect human health," Meier said, "and I think that’s really where the buck stops, where we can really make that tie in more to how we need to address sustainability issues and environmental challenges in order to protect human health.”

Meier said the city is working to improve the water quality in the river by increasing green infrastructure on city-owned properties.

“Our goal for water quality is to improve water quality and nature-based stormwater management," she said.

For more information, visit siouxfalls.org/green.