South Dakota Association of Rural Water Systems FY 2022 Funding Requests & Yearly Report

Dear Congress: Please prioritize what is working.

Small and rural communities have the very important public responsibility of complying with all applicable federal Safe Drinking Water Act and Clean Water Act regulations and for supplying the public with safe drinking water and sanitation every second of every day.

Over 91% of the approximately 50,000 community water systems serve fewer than 10,000 persons and 81% serve fewer than 3,300 persons. Small and rural communities often have difficulty complying with complicated federal mandates and providing safe/affordable drinking water and sanitation due to limited economies of scale and lack of technical expertise. This difficulty is eased due to ongoing and continuing support offered through rural water training and technical assistance programs as highlighted below.

Total Funds for South Dakota: $62,971,465


USDA Circuit Rider Program

FY 2022 Request – $20,762,000

USDA Circuit Rider Program

Since 1980, Circuit Riders have provided the primary assistance to small communities for the operation of safe and clean drinking water supplies and compliance with water regulations. This assistance protects the sizable investment the federal government has made in rural water infrastructure. Circuit Riders are in the field everyday helping systems with compliance, operations, maintenance, management, disaster response and training. The Circuit Rider program has long been one of USDA’s most successful public-private partnerships, efficiently and effectively using appropriated funds to provide technical assistance and training to rural communities through state based nonprofit associations.

South Dakota Circuit Riders, Nick Jackson, Jeff Fossum and Greg Gross make over 1,000 onsite contacts each year to small systems in our state. Wastewater Technician, Danny Ayers is the lone WWT and covers the entire state, providing more than 360 contacts each year.

Priority #2

USDA Farm Service Agency Grassroots Source Water Protection

FY 2022 Request –$6,500,000

USDA Farm Service Agency Grassroots Source Water Protection

This is the only statewide local community-based initiative ensuring environmentally progressive local land-use decisions without the controversy and bureaucracy of regulatory programs. It provides each state with at least one full-time person to organize and assist rural communities, farmers, and other land-use interests in the implementation of source water protection plans including non-point source (runoff) protection practices in agriculture regions. This initiative allows the people who benefit from environmental protection to take responsibility for achieving it—ensuring its success and eliminating local controversy.

SDARWS Source Water Protection Specialist, Jeremiah Corbin has assisted many SD water systems developing Source Water Protection Plans. At least one Source Water workshop is conducted each year.

Priority #3

EPA Safe Drinking Water Act Technical Assistance and Training

FY 2022 Request –$21,700,000

EPA Safe Drinking Water Act Technical Assistance and Training

Since 1977, Small and rural communities have relied on local/on-site technical assistance and training for compliance with the myriad of federal EPA regulations, avoiding EPA fines, and operating drinking water and wastewater supplies. According to small and rural communities, EPA-funded local initiatives are the most effective environmental protection efforts for drinking water & wastewater, groundwater, source water, and compliance with the Safe Drinking Water Act. Small communities want to ensure quality water and stay in compliance – rural water provides them the shared technical resources to do it.

SDARWS Trainers Jim Zeck, Steve Attema, Mike Moeller and Bill Thorson conduct numerous in-person training sessions across the state. Technical assistance is provided to small systems as needed.

Priority #4

EPA Clean Water Act Compliance Technical Assistance

FY 2022 Request –$18,000,000

EPA Clean Water Act Compliance Technical Assistance

Small and rural communities have more difficulty affording public wastewater service due to lack of population density and lack of economies of scale. This challenge is compounded by the fact that rural communities have lower average median household incomes and often have higher rates of poverty. PL 155-270, enacted in October 2018, authorizes a new technical assistance program for small and rural communities to improve water quality, operate and maintain public wastewater treatment utilities and comply with federal Clean Water Act standards.

If awarded to NRWA, SDARWS anticipates 1 or 2 new Clean Water Technical Assistance Specialists. This would go a long way to providing relief to our only Wastewater Tech., Danny Ayers, who now must cover the entire state offering assistance.

Priority #5

DOL Apprenticeship Grant Program

FY 2022 Request –$195,000,000

DOL Apprenticeship Grant Program

Since 2016, NRWA has collaborated with State Rural Water Associations, USDA, DOL, EPA, and local rural water utilities to build the first nationally recognized DOL Registered Apprenticeship program for water and wastewater system operators. Employment data indicates up to 50% of the rural water workforce will leave the water industry within the next 10 years. Rural water and wastewater utilities need a pipeline of skilled workers to help ensure clean and safe water for the public and to maintain the water infrastructure necessary to keep rural service areas economically viable. To date, twenty-nine State Rural Water Associations have federally approved Registered Apprenticeship programs and are currently offering a job creation program specifically designed by industry leaders to attract, train and retain the next generation rural water workforce.

SDARWS has considered implementation of a DOL approved Apprenticeship Program, however, continued funding of this program is uncertain and SDARWS is unsure how we’d continue to staff and fund the program if federal funding was discontinued… still SDARWS will continue to study and reflect upon the Apprenticeship Program.



Some of the assistance and services provided by SDARWS Circuit Riders include:

  • Identify and evaluate affordable solutions to drinking water problems in rural areas
  • Assist systems to rapidly respond and recover after natural and man-made emergencies such as hurricanes, earthquakes, tornadoes, floods, wildfires, ice storms and a health pandemic, including COVID-19
  • Protect the environment and public health by improving treatment processes
  • Improve financial sustainability through better management practices, more efficient operations, and assistance with financial loan/grant application
  • Enhance compliance with drinking water regulations
  • Aid with all aspects of water utility management, finance, operation and maintenance, regulatory compliance, energy efficiency and loan/grant applications

2020 Circuit Rider Program Highlights

Jeff Fossum - Circuit Rider

  • Helped the City of Clear Lake update their Vulnerability Assessment and Emergency Response Plan (VA/ERP)
  • Helped repair a fire hydrant for the City of Lake Preston
  • Collected GPS data points on water infrastructure to build a map for the cities of Gary, Viborg, Selby, and New Effington
  • Located buried/misplaced water lines for the City of Wagner in preparation for the rebuild of HWY 46
  • Assisted the Town of Tabor in finding leaks which accounted for 3.6 million gallons of unaccounted water loss over time

Nick Jackson - Circuit Rider

  • Helped bring the Hermosa Water Users Association back into compliance
  • Assisted the City of Custer in finding a 85 gallon-per-minute leak, saving the system $356,961 future lost revenue/year
  • Helped the City of Belle Fourche make contact with USDA-RD to request emergency funds to fix a series of sudden water main breaks
  • Assisted the City of Keystone in repairing and replacing main valve box risers utilizing the HydroVac
  • Utilized the Leak Detection Trailer assist the High Meadows Water Company find the cause for their 68% water loss

Greg Gross - Circuit Rider

  • Assisted the city of Hudson in finding a leak in frozen ground
  • Helped the City of Britton update their Vulnerability Assessment and Emergency Response Plan (VA/ERP)
  • Assisted the City of Montrose with directional hydrant flushing
  • Collected GPS data points on water infrastructure for the City of Montrose
  • Gave advice to the City of Henry regarding proper water testing and regulatory procedures


Jeremiah Corbin - Source Water Protection Specialist

  • Working on converting the Sioux Empire and Big Sioux Water Festivals to a virtual format due to the COVID-19 Pandemic
  • Conducted water system planning sessions for Lincoln County Rural Water and West River/Lyman-Jones Rural Water
  • Worked with SDARWS staff to develop and updates Vulnerability Assessments and Emergency Response Plans
  • Aided systems with GIS assistance, aiding in sustainability
  • Conducted SDARWS' first ever virtual source water protection workshop


Danny Ayers - Wastewater Technician

  • Helped the City of Fort Pierre correct their non-compliance with their surface water discharge permit
  • Poly pigged one mile of 4-inch force main in the town of Corona to clean the pipe, saving the system $6,000 in pump upgrades
  • Assisted the city of Colome in getting their lagoon system back into compliance after exceeding e-coli limits in their discharge
  • Televised the sanitary sewer lines in Lemmon to assess issues, and determined the city could reline the pipes rather than replace - saving the city $300,000


Jar Testing at Tri County/Mni Wasté

We have been assisting the Tri-County Mni/Wasté Water Company due to a request from DENR and the water system to achieve alternative compliance criteria for TOC (Total Organic Carbon) removal. SDARWS utilizes their lab experience, equipment and knowledge of the D/DBP Rule to carry out these tests in cooperation with the Tri-County/Mni Wasté staff. Determining this point of diminishing returns will allow for decreased chemical usage / operational costs.

WHAT IS JAR TESTING? TOC (Total Organic Carbon) in finished water from treatment plants can combine with disinfectants (chlorine or chloramines) to create harmful byproducts in drinking water. We conduct jar testing to help systems meet the requirements of TOC removal in the disinfection byproduct rule. The jar testing is conducted by increasing the doses of coagulant in subsequent jars. These jars are mixed and settled mimicking the process in the plant to remove TOC. It is used to find a point of diminishing returns, or the point at which adding more coagulant does not reduce the TOC levels much further.