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SOUTH DAKOTA Department of
Agriculture & Natural Resources

Protecting South Dakota's Tomorrow...Today!
Joe Foss Building
523 E Capitol Ave
Pierre, SD 57501-3182
Contact Us  Field Offices

Drinking Water Program

Frequently Asked Questions

question mark.gif (359 bytes) How can I find out if my water is safe to drink?
Your water supplier has the results of all the tests that are performed on the water samples from your water system. You should contact the supplier of your water first, if they do not have the results, contact the Drinking Water Program at (605) 773- 3754. If you have your own well, click here for more information.

question mark.gif (359 bytes) Where does my drinking water come from?
The majority of communities in South Dakota get their drinking water from wells. Here is a summary of active South Dakota Public Water Systems (PWS) as of January 2018:
Number of Public Water Systems 646
Number of Community PWS 463
Number of Nontransient Noncommunity Systems 20
Number of Transient Noncommunity Systems 163
Community Water System Sources
Surface Water 16
Ground Water 239
Combined Surface/Ground Water 2
Ground Water Under Direct Influence of Surface Water 2
Noncommunity/NTNC System Sources
Surface Water 1
Ground Water 182
Ground Water Under Direct Influence of Surface Water 0

question mark.gif (359 bytes) Does DENR (the Drinking Water Program) regulate all drinking water systems?
No, DENR only regulates public water systems (PWS). A PWS is any water system that serves 15 connections or 25 people per day for 60 days per year. There are several types of PWS and they are:
house image Community Water System - a public water system, which serves at least 15 service connections, used by year-round residents or regularly serves at least 25 year-round residents.
school house image Nontransient Noncommunity Water System (NTNC) - a public water system that is not a community water system that regularly serves at least 25 of the same persons at such place a work places, offices, daycares, and schools for at least six months a year.
campsite.jpg (1804 bytes) Transient Non-Community - a public water system that serves a transient or nonresidential population such as campgrounds, rest stops, resorts, etc.

question mark.gif (359 bytes) What do I do in an emergency to disinfect my drinking water?
Many occasions arise which require the disinfection of small quantities of drinking water. Disinfection may be necessary because of temporary contamination of a supply which is satisfactory under normal conditions. It may be necessary to disinfect water that is contaminated during transportation.

Boiling is a very effective means of disinfection drinking water, but the process is bothersome and not often used. Chemical disinfection of small quantities of water for human consumption is much more popular, and if carefully accomplished is as effective as boiling.

Click here to get specific information on disinfecting small quantities of water.

question mark.gif (359 bytes) My house has a well. How do I know if my well water is safe to drink?
Private water supplies should be tested annually for nitrate and coliform bacteria to detect contamination problems. Test more frequently and for more potential contaminants, such as radon or pesticides, if you suspect a problem. The Drinking Water Program has a list of certified laboratories in South Dakota that test water samples. Click here to go to the Certified Labs web page.

In addition, you can help protect your water supply by carefully managing activities at the water source. A web page has been developed that will answer more of your private water supply questions. Click here to go and learn more!

question mark.gif (359 bytes) I want the safest water possible. Is bottled water safer than tap water?
Bottled water is not necessarily any safer than your local drinking water. The Drinking Water Program is involved in inspecting and monitoring bottled water purveyors operating bottling plants within the state of South Dakota.  Bottled water produced and bottled in South Dakota must conform to Chapter 74:04:13 of the South Dakota Administrative Rules.  Bottled water produced in South Dakota and exported to other states as well as bottled water imported into South Dakota are subject to the requirements of CFR Title 21 of the US Food and Drug Administration that relate to bottled water. NSF International, an independent non-profit organization, certifies some brands of bottled drinking water. To find out which brands it certifies, call NSF at 1-800-673-8010.

Click here to learn more about bottled water.

question mark.gif (359 bytes) How do I know if there is lead in my water?
Lead is found almost everywhere: in food, paint, dust, soils, air, and even drinking water. Lead is rarely in drinking water when it leaves the treatment plant. Instead, it leaches into the water from some plumbing in building, especially older buildings that still have lead pipes. Children and pregnant women are most susceptible to health risks from lead in drinking water.

Click here to learn more about lead in your drinking water.

question mark.gif (359 bytes) What is Cryptosporidium and does my water system test for it?
Cryptosporidium is a parasite commonly found in lakes and rivers. It enters water supplies through sewage and animal waste. It causes cryptosporidiosis, a gastrointestinal disease. The largest water systems in the country have participated in a testing program in which they checked their source water for Cryptosporidium monthly. The City of Sioux Falls participated in this study.

question mark.gif (359 bytes) My water looks and smells awful, but the water department says it is safe to drink. How is that?
Sometimes water may look or smell bad, and still be safe. Your water is tested regularly for bacteriological content. Compounds such as iron, manganese, and other sediments may give your water the appearance of being "dirty", without affecting its microbiological quality.

question mark.gif (359 bytes) My water smells like chlorine. I don't like it. Why does it have to be in the water?
Chlorine is a very effective disinfectant used to kill any harmful bacteria that might be present in the water source. The amount of chlorine that is used is based on several things.

1) the amount of water being treated;
2) the number or amount of contaminants that must be controlled: and
3) the length of time the chlorine has to react in the water before the water reaches the first customer.

If the water has a chlorine smell, it may actually indicate that not enough chlorine is being added to the system. By increasing the amount of chlorine used at the treatment plant, different forms of chlorine are created in the water, which have less chlorine odor.