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EPA gives South Dakota $62 million for drinking water infrastructure

United States Environmental Protection Agency

The United States Environmental Protection Agency announced an allocation of $62 million to South Dakota to go towards upgrading drinking water infrastructure throughout the state.

The money, which is part of a recent allocation of $6.5 billion from the Drinking Water State Revolving Fund for the entire country, will primarily be used by communities to complete inventories of lead-containing water infrastructure and to plan the replacement of water lines that contain lead.

Part of the funding will also go towards addressing contaminants in drinking water, such as PFAs, which the EPA classifies as widely used, long-term chemicals that can be ingested and cause health risks.

According to the KC Becker, the administrator for the EPA’s eighth region, which South Dakota is a part of, lead pipes and contaminated drinking water are a danger to both individual health and the environment.

“[The] EPA is committed to protecting the health of all South Dakotans by ensuring the water flowing into their taps is reliably safe long into the future,” Becker said in a press release. “This funding is an invaluable investment in public and environmental health.”

Nationally, this funding is part of the Biden-Harris administration’s goal to entirely remove lead pipes throughout the country, according to EPA Administrator Michael Regan. A majority of the money allocated to South Dakota through the fund was provided by the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, which passed Congress in 2021.

The funding amounts for each state are based on the EPA’s most recent Drinking Water Infrastructure Needs Survey and Assessment. According to the report, South Dakota has a projected total of 4,141 lead service lines, which is 0.05% of the national estimate. Colorado has the most lead lines of the eighth region, with a total of 111,907, or 1.2% of the national estimate.

Besides South Dakota and Colorado, the EPA’s eighth region also includes Montana, North Dakota, Utah, Wyoming and tribes located in those states. All other states in the region also received $62 million, except for Colorado, which received $91 million.

This funding for South Dakota is separate from the $3.6 million the EPA recently allocated to South Dakota through the Clean Water State Revolving Fund.

Andrew Kronaizl is a senior at Augustana University. He is from Vermillion, SD, and is based out of SDPB's Sioux Falls studio.