South Dakota protecting drinking water supplies The South Dakota Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) is one of the first in the nation to complete new requirements under the federal Safe Drinking Water Act. On April 17, DENR completed source water assessments for each public drinking water system in South Dakota.
Source water assessment is a process that identifies critical areas around each public drinking water system's water well or intake, inventories potential sources of pollution in those critical areas, and determines how susceptible each water source may be to contamination. The source water assessment reports present the results of the evaluations for each public water supply system.
The department completed 574 assessments. In each assessment, DENR assigned to each public water system a susceptibility rating based on a number of potential risk factors. About 32 percent of South Dakota's public water supply systems use water sources that are at lower risk of becoming contaminated, 55 percent are at moderate risk, and 13 percent are at higher risk.
"Rest assured, a public water supply system with a high susceptibility rating is still delivering water to your tap that's safe to drink," said Steve Pirner, secretary of the DENR. "Regular laboratory testing ensures that your tap water is safe. These assessments were done to simply make public officials aware of potential risks to their sources of drinking water."
The water supply system operators, with local support and working with local community leaders, can use the information gathered through the assessments as the basis to protect the quality of their drinking water source. Local management and protection strategies may include actions such as zoning, health regulations, public education, land acquisition, collection of stored waste materials, water quality monitoring, and the encouragement of water conservation.
States were mandated by Congress in 1996, as an amendment to the federal Safe Drinking Water Act, to complete source water assessments. The amendment required states to develop programs to assess the potential for each public water supply drinking water source to becoming contaminated by possible pollution sources in the area.
South Dakota's Source Water Assessment and Protection Program Plan was approved by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in 1999. For further information on South Dakota's Source Water Assessment and Protection Program, go to www.state.sd.us/denr/ DES/ground/Sourcewater/sourcewater.htm or call Sarah Speck at 605-773-3296.