Friends of the Big Sioux River maintains the following positions on urban practices:

- We are concerned about the public health ramifications of our water. We believe warning the public whenever immersion in the Big Sioux River is unsafe is the proper thing to do.

- We encourage low impact development practices that minimize runoff, reduce infrastructure costs, maintain natural landscape, minimize development costs and generally improve the quality of life. We encourage infiltration based hydrology, not runoff based hydrology.

- Integrate storm water design into site design.

- Reduce hard surfaces to increase storm water absorption.

- Minimize the disruption to natural topsoil.

- Increase topsoil depths on all residential and commercial lots.

- Fit the development to the natural landscape and preserve natural areas as common community areas (playgrounds, parks and ball fields).

- Preserve natural wetlands.

- Use and enforcement of temporary construction sediment barriers.

- Use bio-retention practices wherever possible.

- We encourage practices that reduce storm water runoff and pollution.

- Rain garden locations should be designed into both residential and commercial lots to capture and slow runoff.

- Riparian strips should be used where feasible.

- Parking lot design should incorporate rain gardens (replacing raised berms) to hold and filter runoff.

- Rain barrel use is encouraged.

- We encourage responsible use of fertilizers and other chemicals on lawns.

- We encourage the public to properly dispose of pet waste.


If you live in the Big Sioux River Watershed District, you are influencing the river. Even if you have never seen the shining waters of the Big Sioux or set foot on its rocky shores, with your hands, your property, or by some extension, you have touched rainwater that has reached the river. Everyone in the Big Sioux Watershed has a stake in the river. Whether you're a homeowner, car owner, pet owner, hunter, fisherman, or businessman, you can take action for the Big Sioux. If eastern South Dakota is your home, this river is yours.

In this section of our website, you will find videos, articles, and links meant to facilitate a journey in which you learn how to care for your river. We provide the basic information and encourage you to find what interests you or what you feel you can do and explore further!

Regardless of how you relate to the river, the key to a healthy river is to be proactive. Make sure you:

  • Don't litter. Crush out cigarette butts and make sure they end up in a trashcan or other appropriate receptacle.
  • Pick up trash whenever you see it — whether you're near the water or not. In our windy part of the country, litter tends to travel, and it often finds its way to the river.
  • If you see something, say something: If you catch someone failing at any of the above, be nice, but speak up. We have to disrupt bad habits that hurt the watershed. Remember, the Big Sioux River needs friends. You only need say, "You know that's headed straight to the river. Could you please put that where it belongs?"

Protecting the Big Sioux River means protecting your customers. It means showing your community that you care about their quality of life. It means being proud of your own actions. These choices become apparent and can be a powerful sales tool. On this page, you will find a number of tips and projects that will help you turn your business into a friend of our river

How You Can Help

  1. Install bio-retention cells to prevent run-off, add curb appeal, and attract customers.
  1. For parking lots and sidewalks, use pavers or permeable concrete to filter run-off and reduce cracking.
  1. When building/renovating, keep twelve inches of topsoil. It will help reduce fertilizing and watering costs!
  1. Reduce the amount of salt, fertilizer, and other chemicals you use and keep them off hard surfaces which are prone to runoff.
  1. Consider installing a green roof. This can create a nice space for employees and/or customers.
  1. Keep your parking lot clear of litter that could wash into storm drains.
  1. Replace galvanized roofs. Galvanized steel contains zinc, which can run off into rivers and poison aquatic life.



Center for Small Businesses and the Environment: The experts on running a sustainable business

EPA's Resources for Small Businesses: This webpage includes links to training, funding, regulations, and compliance.

The Small Business Community's Water Quality Regulations: A collection of regulations and resources, including the Clean Water Act Compliance Assistance, Water Laws and Regulations, and Water Quality Standards




Confused about what native plants to use to accentuate your business? Not sure what improvements you could be making in your building to protect your community? Call the experts!

Millborn Seeds (Brookings)

Dakota Environmental Inc. (Huron)

American Engineering Testing, Inc. (Pierre, Rapid City, and Beresford)

GeoTek Engineering & Testing Services, Inc. (Sioux Falls)

Coteau Environmental (Watertown)

Leggette Brashears & Graham (Sioux Falls)

Minnehaha Soil Conservation (Sioux Falls)

R Dh Design Services Ltd. (Sioux Falls)

Snm Enterprises (Sisseton)


Work with Friends

Friends of the Big Sioux River collects and produces material on water quality awareness and best practices. If you would like brochures, posters, or a short presentation, contact us, and we will be happy to work with you. Feel free to tell us what you’d like to know or what you’d like to see. Send us your input through the “Contact” page or  join us in a conversation on our Facebook page.

Business Owners, Want Some Good Publicity?

Join Friends of the Big Sioux River, and we will put your company information on our website. In each of our newsletters (sent to a mailing list of over 300+ potential customers!), we will spotlight a business friend, providing our readers with the business's address and services.

As towns and cities in eastern South Dakota continue to grow, the fate of our land and water rest in the hands of our developers. On this page, you will find links to Low Impact Development (LID) resources. Remember, as you shape our urban areas, you shape our futures. Make beautiful, healthy choices!

Low-Impact Development

Install bio-retention cells in parking lots! They hold and filter pollutants, while enhancing eye appeal.

Use permeable hard surfaces, such as permeable concrete or pavers, during construction! They allow runoff to permeate and filter.

Maintain 12 inches of topsoil. This ensures that plants will be able to grow after development, as well as restrict and filter runoff.

During construction, utilize sediment barriers.


Introduction to LID

LID Storm Water Construction Practices

LID Training

What would you do to protect your home? Eastern South Dakota is our home, and it is our responsibility to keep it healthy. We support our environment so it can support us. By poisoning our own waters, we are poisoning our own homes and endangering our future. The Big Sioux are our waters. We need to be aware of our impact on our homeland and know what steps can be taken to minimize any damage. The fight for a cleaner river can be fought on the home front. By making slight adjustments to your day-to-day activities, do your part to help the Big Sioux River.

How You Can Help

  • In the fall, aerate lawns and spread compost instead of fertilizer to improve soil quality.
  • In the winter, use salt sparingly; shovel whenever possible.
  • Keep fertilizers and lawn chemicals on the lawn and off hard surfaces to keep them from running off into streams and rivers.
  • Mow your lawn a notch higher and allow grass clippings to stay on the lawn. These clippings act as organic fertilizer.
  • Redirect downspouts away from foundations and onto permeable surfaces. This will allow for better penetration and filtration, and it will keep basements dry!
  • Landscape your yard with native plants. These plants are better suited for SD and will require less chemical treatment.
  • Landscape your yard instead of trying to maintain grass. This lessens runoff.
  • Instead of pouring concrete for patios and driveways, use pavers, which allow for more water penetration. They also crack less and require less maintenance!
  • Minimize the amount of watering and fertilizing you do; do not water or fertilize before predicted rains. Apply water only where it will be absorbed, and shut off sprinkler systems at night.
  •  Use rain barrels to collect rainwater, and use this water for your yard and garden.
  • If you own riverfront property, starting at the river's edge, allow a 50 foot chemical-free buffer strip.
  • Regularly check your septic system to make sure there are no leaks or overflows.
  • When doing home improvement projects, locate your storm drain and protect it from debris.
  • Don't wash paintbrushes outdoors. Keep chemicals such as these from running down the storm drain.
  • Use pavers instead of concrete for driveways, walkways, and patios.

Do It Yourself

Get your hands dirty for a cleaner river! The following is a short list of do-it-yourself projects that can sharpen your home's curb appeal, save you some money, AND improve your river's water quality. Simply click on the links to find step-by-step directions, instructional videos, and inspirational pictures.

  1. Create a rain garden.
  2. Install a rain barrel/water catchment system.
  3. For homeowners or apartment renters with flat rooftops, try a green roof.


Lawn Care

How You Can Help

  • Pick up your pet's waste and dispose of it in the trash. Otherwise, the feces will run off into storm drainage systems and get into the Big Sioux River.


In California, cat feces in freshwater runoff killed local sea otter populations! Cats carry a disease called toxoplasmosis and this parasite was flushed into the water. Toxo can cause body aches, fever, and fatigue. In babies and people with poor immune systems, it can cause seizures. Just like California, our pet feces end up in the runoff and can taint our water, making us ill. Make sure you bag your pet poo to keep it out of your water! To learn more, read "Parasitic Pollution."

The Dirty Truth: Home Car Washing

How You Can Help

  • Don't dump oil or chemicals down your storm drain.
  • Maintain your vehicle so oils and fluids don't leak onto paved surfaces, including roads and parking lots.
  • Wash your car on your lawn to prevent soaps from running into storm sewers.