Assessing the sediment and bacteria impairments in the Central Big Sioux River Watershed and reducing pollution through a water quality trading.

Project Details

Natural Resources Conservation District

2012 - 2015

South Dakota, Minnesota, and Iowa


The Natural Resources Conservation Service awarded RESPEC a Conservation Innovation Grant for the first water quality trading project in South Dakota. The project is located in the Central Big Sioux River Watershed in east-central South Dakota, southwestern Minnesota, and the northwestern corner of Iowa.

Based on the Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) assessment that RESPEC conducted on the main stem of the Big Sioux River and several of its tributaries, agricultural lands and stormwater discharges from Municipal Separate Storm Sewer System- (MS4-) permitted communities are contributing to the sediment and bacteria impairments in the streams. To solve this problem, representatives from agricultural and MS4-permitted communities joined together to form the Central Big Sioux River Watershed Implementation Project Steering Committee.

This collaborative effort involved local, state, and federal stakeholders who were invested in the program's success. Together, they used the innovative approach of water quality trading to find the quickest and most cost-effective methods to reduce pollution.