The Mayor of Sioux Falls is hosting his 3rd annual Big Sioux River Water Summit Thursday. Conservationists, city officials, and agriculture specialists are discussing projects to improve the water quality near the Big Sioux River.
Jesse Neyens is an environmental analyst and water quality specialist with the city of Sioux Falls. He says this year the Mayor decided to host the summit in Brookings hoping to engage more people in the discussion of water quality.
“We decided this year to take it to Brooking because we wanted to give the opportunity to others in our watershed--the big Sioux watershed starts north of Watertown and goes all the way down to the Dakota boarder of Iowa- so we want to give other people the opportunity to attend to see what’s going on in the watershed and really see how they can get involved in our water quality project because it does effect such a big area,” says Neyens.
The Big Sioux Water Project is a collaboration between the City of Sioux Falls and the surrounding counties. Part of the project aims to put buffers along streams to act as filters, and prevent livestock waste from polluting the river.
“The Sioux Falls in this area is considered impaired by the state of South Dakota water quality standards for bacteria and total suspended solids and that’s basically the sediment in the water, so those are the two issues we’re bring awareness too, but a lot of the talks are just water quality in general, but those are the two issues that people here in Sioux Falls are looking at,” says Neyens.
Other topics at the summit include storm water management and workshops on rain barrels.
Neyens says since taking office, water quality has remained a priority for Mayor Huether. He says the Mayor is also looking at replacing parts of mowed grass in Sioux Falls with native plants.