Pollution Everywhere: One Fifth of SD Waters Support Designated Uses

While our Congressional delegation fights the EPA’s efforts to regulate water pollution, while Rep. G. Mark Mickelson pins his gubernatorial hopes on deregulating feedlots, while a Canadian hog producer slags South Dakota farmer Frank Kloucek for his environmental concerns and pushes for more hog lots in Bon Homme County, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources reports that about four out of five of South Dakota’s lakes and streams are unfit for their designated uses:

South Dakota has about 9,726 miles of perennial rivers and streams (Table 1) and about 87,780 miles of intermittent streams. About 5,858 stream miles have been assessed in the past five years (October 2010 to September 2015). During this 5-year interval, 21.3% of assessed stream miles were found to support the assigned beneficial use; 78.7% did not support one or more beneficial uses. 53.2% percent of stream miles designated for immersion recreation supported that beneficial use.

…DENR assessed 172 of the 576 lakes assigned recreation and/or warmwater or coldwater beneficial uses. The assessed lakes account for 67% of the total classified lake acreage. An estimated 19% of the assessed lake acreage was considered to support assigned beneficial uses [SD DENR, The 2016 South Dakota Integrated Report for Surface Water Quality Assessment, draft report, issued May 2016, p. 2].

The causes of this pollution are both natural and manmade:

Sediment and nutrients conveyed in surface water runoff are the main nonpoint source pollutants impacting South Dakota lakes and reservoirs.

Similar to previous reporting periods, nonsupport for fishery/aquatic life uses was caused primarily by total suspended solids (TSS) from agricultural nonpoint sources and natural origin. Nonsupport for recreational uses was primarily caused by Escherichia coli (E. coli) contamination from livestock and wildlife contributions [DENR, May 2016, p. 2].

People pay good money to come to South Dakota to fish, swim, and ride their jet skis. Local boosters feature their lakes and streams as prime reasons to move here. But when we say we want unfettered development of factory farms that will dump cities worth of sewage into our already suffering sparkling pools, we cut the legs out from under one of the best parts of our quality of life.

CAFO poop may smell like money, but no one wants to swim in it.

The DENR water quality assessment is just a draft. DENR invites public comment on this draft through June 8.


12 Responses to Pollution Everywhere: One Fifth of SD Waters Support Designated Uses

  1. In 1972, there was a show called “Bewitched” and Elizabeth Montgomery played “Samantha” who lived in secret as a witch; with her TV husband “Darrin” Stephens. 8 seasons of ‘witchery’; bending outcomes and using her ‘powers’ to dissuade events. How I wish I had the ‘power’ of ‘Samantha’ and could “twitch” my nose and make Sunterra Farms and Ben Woolley go away!!! If Canada wants to raise hogs; let them develop the barns in their back yards and not ours. Mr. Kloucek is not promoting himself; he promotes responsible practices; he speaks for small producers and for the well-being of the state and the environment. Frank isn’t in Congress any longer. Praises to Mr. Kloucek for speaking up in defense of our neighborhoods. If these confinement units are so safe and wonderfully regulated and have no “smell” as Ben Woollery says; why aren’t these confinement units built right behind Woollery’s own personal dwelling ? Zoning?? They ‘zone’ in areas of least resistance.

  2. mike from iowa

    The DENR water quality assessment is just a draft.

    Let me guess, the final rewrite of this assessment will come from the big ag lobbyists in the capitol with no input from the DENR and will basically say runoff works for politics and so must be good for the livestock industry.

  3. mike from iowa

    Plus all those large trucks trucking hogs and feed and cement to build these factory farms will make mush out of gravel or blacktop in short order.

  4. Paul Seamans

    Unless the legislature/governor get serious about protecting our waters five years from now we will look back wistfully when only 79% of our waters were considered unusable for their intended purposes.

  5. Let’s watch for the changes, Mike, and read who submits public comments.

    MK, I am curious as to why the Canadians keep wanting to send bad ideas to South Dakota.

  6. dude we need da jobs!!!!!!

  7. Cory, I think a better headline would have read, “DENR Judges 80% of Waters Unfit for Designated Use”. We ought to take another look at property tax rates on farm land set aside to protect waterways.

  8. mike from iowa

    The oil companies told us it “fixed” our “complex” oil tax credit system. I guess it did — if by fixed you mean Alaska expects to pay the oil industry $700 million more in tax credits than we get in production taxes. Put it this way, if they were “fixing” your dog you would have a litter of puppies on the way and be paying the vet to both deliver them and get her spayed.
    We were told SB 21 would protect the state at low oil prices. Instead, we will be allowing BP, ConocoPhillips and Exxon to write off losses for years to come.

    When Tom Delay was elected SOH, he came right out and told America lobbyists for various industries would be writing legislation because they knew their industries better than congressweasels did. I’m just saying…..

  9. mike from iowa

    Sorry-the top paragraph inmy previous post was written superbly by Shannyn Moore of themudflats.net. She is the CAH of Alaska.

  10. It appears that not only is the DENR and its ‘board’ incompetent to regulate drilling, but also incompetent to ensure that South Dakotans have clean water. We are Flint, though we just yet don’t know it. I long ago quit eating not-so ‘wildlife’ raised in farm country because of the chemical crap those deer, waterfowl, and pheasants eat.

    Thanks for ruining my state: agricultural, chemical, non-regulatory legislative industrial complex.

  11. Lanny V Stricherz

    While I agree with much of what has been written here and in particular M.K.’s assessment of Frank Kloucek and his efforts to help small farmers and to protect our land and water, I must admit that this is a bigger issue than just the corporate polluters. I just got back from fishing up in the Northeast corner of our state. I was telling my friend on the way back about the following.

    When I was in Europe 50 plus years ago, and particularly in Rome, I was abhorred at how trashy Rome looked with trash all over the streets. Now my hometown of Sioux Falls is worst than Rome was back then. The lakes in Southeast SD and the Sioux RIver have so much garbage on the shore and even on the water in the case of the Sioux (go look below the falls the next time you are in Sioux Falls). We fished on a couple of the reservation lakes and they seemed so much cleaner than Lake Vermillion, and Lake Thompson without the used fishing line and pop and beer cans and bottles. When the people who live here no longer care how things look, why should we expect corporations to treat our environment and differently?

  12. Jack Shaftoe

    Many years ago North Carolina made it very easy for CAFO’s to get started and in 4 decades now they are everywhere. You also would be hard pressed to find a waterway that isn’t fouled with E-coli and other toxins and poisons. That is quite an accomplishment considering you can’t walk for a mile most anywhere without encountering a creek or river. And look how well the “economic development” panned out with a bunch of low income jobs that only undocumented immigrants will work at. They just need a statute to prohibit photography of poisoned water courses and environmental degradation like Wyoming. Hey, how come South Dakota hasn’t enacted one of those laws yet?