DENR Report: 143 Impaired Water Bodies In SD

May 4, 2016

The DENR report shows 143 impaired water bodies in the state . This includes parts of the Big Sioux River. One section of the Big Sioux tests positive for fecal coliform bacteria.
Credit Kealey Bultena / SDPB

A new report by the state’s Department of Environment and Natural Resources lists 143 of South Dakota's streams, lakes, and rivers as impaired or polluted.

The DENR reports pollution in surface water to the EPA every two years.

The Clean Water Act requires South Dakota's DENR report to the EPA so officials can identify and track impaired water bodies.  Pollutants can include mercury in fish, e coli bacteria, and even excess dirt and mud that gets washed into streams from farm fields or feedlots.  

Paul Lorenzen is an Environmental Scientist with the state's DENR.  Lorenzen says in the big picture the goal of the report is to ensure clean water for future generations.  
 
“Clean water equates to a lot of things.   It equates to good habitat.  And in general when you have good habitat you have healthy populations.  And that helps to support hunting and fishing for future generations of South Dakotans,” says Lorenzen.
 
Lorenzen says the DENR employs a number of practices to reduce pollution in water bodies in South Dakota.   One is keeping natural habitat and grasses along the edges of lakes and rivers.
 
“It is practice that we definitely recommend as part of these watershed based implementation projects.  Establishing riparian areas  and stuff like that it is a key practice,” says Lorenzen.
 
A plan this year to give a tax break to landowners who put vegetation buffer strips along waterways received a veto from Governor Dennis Daugaard.

The list polluted lakes and rivers in the state is down from two years ago when 166 water bodies made the list. Officials say the number dropped this year primarily due to changes in the criteria for what is considered harmful or impaired.   The report on water pollution in South Dakota is open for public comment until June 8th, 2016.