WHO ARE WE?
We are water quality.
If you've ever wondered, "The Big Sioux River is pretty dirty, why isn't there anything being done?" then you haven't heard of the Big Sioux River Project. We are working to clean up the Big Sioux River, and have been for almost 20 years. We just haven't been very vocal about it... until now.
The Big Sioux River Project (BSRP) is leading the way to improve water quality not just in the Big Sioux River, but throughout the entire Big Sioux River watershed.
The BSRP is a non-government project of the East Dakota Water Development District and Minnehaha Conservation District that implements Best Management Practices (BMPs), typically on agricultural land adjacent or nearby the Big Sioux River and its tributaries. For example, BMPs related to livestock include reducing bacteria (fecal, E. coli) and sediment inputs into waterways. This is accomplished by providing financial and technical assistance to improve existing feeding operations, and managing pastureland through our riparian buffer programs. Other cropland BMPs that we offer assistance with are filter strips, grassed waterways, and terracing, to name a few.
BMPs are implemented to improve water quality to meet the intended beneficial uses of the river. The BSRP also raises public awareness of water quality issues and monitors the health of the river and its tributaries.
The BSRP is broken up into segments, which allow a chance to check in, take stock of milestones, and generate reports that showcase water quality improvements for the EPA and other partner agencies. In 2020, the BSRP entered Segment 4 of the project, with the Minnehaha Conservation District (MCD) acting as the lead sponsor of the project. This segment will last 5 years, with a projected budget of $14 million. The project expects to continue implementing BMPs, introduce a Working Lands Easement program, and place an emphasis on community engagement with the project.
Senior Watershed Coordinator
Barry is the Senior Watershed Coordinator for the Big Sioux River Project. He has worked Proactively with producers and landowners to bring new and innovative programs that improve water quality throughout the watershed.
You can reach Barry at firstname.lastname@example.org
or on his cell at (605) 759-2650
Agricultural Conservation Specialist
McKenzie is the Agricultural Conservation Specialist for the Big Sioux River Project. She joined the project in the Fall of 2022.
You can reach McKenzie at email@example.com
We're a Non-Government Organization...
...but we know that how all of our partnerships work can be confusing. Hopefully this flowchart helps.
EDWDD provides staff, financial and technical assistance, and advises the BSRP. Much of the Big Sioux River watershed falls within the District, therefore EDWDD promotes the conservation, development, and proper management of water resources for the project. EDWDD also handles water quality testing.
The MCD is the lead sponsor of Segment 4 of the Big Sioux River Project. The district chairman and board of directors provide input and vote on recommendations for the project. They head a steering committee that is comprised of local stakeholders and partner agencies that meet quarterly to discuss goals and accomplishments of the Big Sioux River Project. In addition, the MCD also provides support via their staff's expertise in implementing BMPs and offer services like grass seeding and tree planting.
SDDANR administers the U.S. EPA Section 319 grant and provides oversight on all project activities. Project administration includes on-site office visits, managing funds, watershed tours, review of implementation activities and reports, approval of payment requests, and attendance at steering committee meetings.
USDA/NRCS provides technical assistance for planning, design, contracting, and installation of conservation practices. USDA/NRCS also provides the project's workspace, software licenses, and systems which enable the BSRP staff to generate conservation plans, contracts, and maps for BMP implementation activities.
The City of Sioux Falls provides financial assistance to the program through SRF NPS funds. The City also serves in an advisory capacity with members appointed to the steering committee. In addition, the City hosts the annual Big Sioux River Water Summit which brings the community together to host presentations and discuss ideas for the future of the watershed.
The EPA provides he Clean Water Act Section 319 Grant which is one of the primary funding sources of the BSRP. EPA officials from the Region 8 office in Denver, Colorado also provides assistance and advice for the project.
NPLT provides ongoing support to the BSRP by managing and partnering on the Working Lands Easement program.
FBSR provides another avenue for the community to get involved with the Big Sioux River. FBSR advocates for the health and use of the river for all stakeholders, and regularly assists in water quality sampling and volunteer activities that directly impact the river.
BSRP works with South Dakota's Conservation Districts, including the Brookings, Clay, Deuel, Hamlin, Lake, Lincoln, McCook, Minnehaha, Moody, Turner, and Union county Conservation Districts. These Conservation Districts have provided support in a variety of ways including, but not limited to, their staff's expertise, serving in an advisory capacity, and offering technical services to the project.
Landowners, Operators, and Members of the Watershed Community
Without the enthusiastic participation of landowners and operators the project would not be able to improve water quality as much as it has thus far.
If you are a landowner or operator and would like to work with us, click here.