Water supply a concern as Sioux Falls area demand increases

August 21, 2021 GMT

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (AP) — An economic development group has concerned about the water supply in the Sioux Falls area as demand increases.

The Sioux Metro Growth Alliance serves 13 municipalities along with Lincoln and Minnehaha counties.

Jesse Fonkert, the alliance’s president and CEO, said discussions about the future supply and demand for water in the area need to start now.

“We’ve been talking about the three W’s that are our challenges — water, wastewater and workforce,” Fonkert told KELO-TV. “I put water first because we’re an ag state. We’ve got a great supply of corn and beans. If you want to take the grains and add value to them, you need water.”

The tri-state Lewis & Clark Regional Water System that serves nearly 350,000 people reached its max capacity at 32 million gallons a day in June.

Soon the system will expand capacity to 45 million gallons of Missouri River water treated daily and distributed to 15 different cities and other water systems. Five more sites are expected to be added when the project is 100% finished.


Fonkert said the demand for water has risen as a concern as developers searching for future sites.

“If we want to attract more jobs and more projects that have a positive impact on farmers in our region, we need a stable long term supply of water,” Fonkert said.

Troy Larson, the Executive Director of the Lewis & Clark Regional Water System, acknowledges the system’s capacity has been pushed to the max this year, but additional wells will provide additional capacity.

“Water is taken for granted and that’s what we’re seeing with the drought. People are realizing they can’t take it for granted,” Larson said. “Water is the new oil and people really haven’t believed it, but I think they’re believing it this year.”