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South Dakota Water and Community Symposium to be held July 26

Brookings, S.D. – SDSU Extension will host a one-day South Dakota Water and Community Symposium Tuesday, July 26, from 9:30 a.m. – 2:30 p.m. at the Raven Precision Agriculture Center on the South Dakota State University campus in Brookings.

SDSU is working to assess the capacity of small communities to deal with water through funding and support from the South Dakota Discovery Center (319h grant program) and East Dakota Water Development District (EDWDD).

“In 2019, South Dakota townships saw $30 million in damages from flooding,” said John McMaine, SDSU Extension Specialist-Water Management Engineer. “In small communities, towns often lack the financial and technical capacity for long-term planning for water resources. This symposium is part of a project to assess the capacity of small towns and communities in managing water.”

The study is focused on small communities throughout eastern South Dakota. The primary research goal is to understand the issues small communities are facing regarding water quality, watershed management, stormwater, water infrastructure and flooding.

The project is led by Jeremiah Bergstrom, instructor of landscape architecture. Other members of the project team include McMaine and Candace May, associate professor of sociology and rural studies.

With this is a preliminary assessment, researchers plan to propose a framework for a water resources tool kit that can assist small communities in protecting water resources while managing the needs of residents and infrastructure.

“The result of this gathering will be a better understanding of the values and capacity of small towns, which we will use to develop a survey that will then be used to assess these capacity questions on a larger scale across the state,” said McMaine. “Eventually, we also plan to develop a toolkit of resources that work for small towns in South Dakota.”

The project includes interviews with a variety of community members as well as research regarding the current condition of water resources in the region. At the symposium, researchers will share preliminary results and look for input and guidance from attendees for further work.

In addition, the research team has invited Andy Szatko, engineer with the city of Omaha, to present and discuss his work in watershed management within urban communities.

Preliminary Agenda:

  • 9:30 a.m. – Registration
  • 10:00 a.m. – Project overview and introductions
  • 10:30 a.m. – Keynote Speaker Andy Szatko, engineer with the city of Omaha
  • 11:15 a.m. – Research presentation: impervious cover and water resource trends
  • 11:40 a.m. – Research presentation: summary of community interviews
  • Noon – Lunch
  • 12:30 p.m. – Facilitated participant discussion: What do communities need?
  • 1:00 p.m. – Research presentation: A community water resources toolbox for SD communities
  • 1:30 p.m. – Research presentation: A community water resources survey for SD communities
  • 2:00 p.m. – Facilitated participant discussion: next steps
  • 2:30 p.m. – Adjourn

“Since a lot of what we know about watershed management is based on urban communities, we hope the symposium and the conversation with Andy Szatko will be an opportunity for us researchers and local community leaders to discuss and learn more about the differences between larger urban communities and smaller rural communities,” said McMaine.

Lunch will be provided to all attendees and an SDSU certificate will be provided for four hours of continuing education to those seeking credit. An virtual option will be available for portions of the program for those unable to participate in person.

The Raven Precision Agriculture Center is located on the SDSU campus at 1030 North Campus Drive, Brookings, SD 57007.

Those interested in attending are encouraged to RSVP to Jeremiah Bergstrom, instructor of landscape architecture, at or (605) 688-5141. Those needing a continuing education certificate are asked to indicate that with their RSVP prior to the symposium.

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