Final Report: Big Sioux River Drainage Basin Information Outreach Project

EPA Grant Number: R828575
Title: Big Sioux River Drainage Basin Information Outreach Project
Investigators: Johnson, Lyle D. , Bender, Alan R. , Cowman, Tim , Gilbertson, Jay P. , Greenlee, David D , Sando, Steven K. , Smith, Kevin , Stefanich, Tim , Van Aartsen, Steven
Institution: South Dakota State University , United States Geological Survey [USGS]
EPA Project Officer: Packard, Benjamin H
Project Period: January 1, 2001 through December 31, 2002
Project Amount: $572,976
RFA: Environmental Monitoring for Public Access and Community Tracking (EMPACT) (2000) RFA Text |  Recipients Lists
Research Category: Water , Air , Ecological Indicators/Assessment/Restoration


The main objective of this research project was to raise public awareness about the importance of protecting the Big Sioux River Drainage Basin. To accomplish this objective, the City of Sioux Falls and its partnering agencies expanded and improved public accessibility to a wide variety of relevant environmental data.

Summary/Accomplishments (Outputs/Outcomes):

The main objective of this research project has been accomplished. The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) is collecting a variety of hydrologic data in the Big Sioux River Basin that are now available on the Environmental Monitoring for Public Access and Community Tracking (EMPACT) Web Site on a real-time basis.

The USGS real-time stream flow gaging station on the main stem of the Big Sioux River near Dell Rapids has been particularly helpful for the public and water resource personnel within the City of Sioux Falls. Sioux Falls recently established a plan to enact more stringent lawn watering restrictions based on the output from the Dell Rapids gaging station. Figures 1 and 2 display the instrumentation that was purchased through EMPACT, along with the associated hardware that was required to install the instrumentation in the river channel.

River Probe Used To Measure Environmental Parameters

Figure 1. River Probe Used To Measure Environmental Parameters

Large-Diameter Polyvinylchloride (PVC) Pipe Used To Protect River Probes

Figure 2. Large-Diameter Polyvinylchloride (PVC) Pipe Used To Protect River Probes. Holes drilled in the PVC pipe allow circulation of river water while still protecting the probes.

In addition to the real-time stream flow data collected by the USGS, South Dakota State University (SDSU) personnel used EMPACT funds to purchase and install a real-time weather station within the City of Dell Rapids, located north of Sioux Falls. The site is in compliance with current weather data collection norms and is being maintained by SDSU personnel.

In early 2004, the USGS and the City of Sioux Falls jointly funded the installation of three real-time groundwater monitoring sites within the Big Sioux aquifer. The information gathered from these sites now is posted on the EMPACT Web Site on a daily basis.

Along with the acquisition of the stream flow instrumentation, City of Sioux Falls and USGS staffs were faced with the challenge of finding a method to safely attach the equipment to bridges in the river. City Water Reclamation staff developed a platform structure that was fabricated to house some of the stream gaging equipment that the USGS needed to install on a bridge over the Big Sioux River in Sioux Falls. City Water Reclamation staff fabricated and installed a similar structure on an upstream bridge near the Town of Dell. Figure 3 displays one of the platforms.

Bridge Platform

Figure 3. Bridge Platform

As part of the project, the City of Sioux Falls Public Works Administration and Geographic Information Systems (GIS) Divisions created a useful and informative Web-interactive map service for the public and for interested parties dealing with layers that aid decisionmaking in the Big Sioux River Drainage Basin. This application serves both the internal users and the public, and its primary layers include USGS stream flow information, water quality monitoring information, orthophotography, and satellite imagery.

The main purpose of the interactive map project was to produce an Intranet/Internet server-based application to distribute environmental data using custom ArcIMS tools to distribute GIS technology, data, and data analysis capabilities. It also was meant to produce an Intranet/Internet server-based application to distribute environmental data relevant to the geographic area of the Big Sioux River and the associated basin area. This GIS technology, including ArcIMS tools, provides the capability to query, analyze, display, and map existing data; provides daily monitoring updates; and facilitates future projects.

Initial objectives of the interactive map service included:

  • Establishing a boundary area (Big Sioux River Drainage Basin).
  • Joining all map services in a seamless fashion so that information appears to come from one Web site.
  • Maintaining users on by attaining information from outside agencies and bringing data back to the local site.
  • Targeting public use versus internal use: the public needs to access river levels, water quality, etc., and internal users need to access Discharge Monitoring Reports in a database file format.

The mapping application utilizes spatial information from other resources; however, the application utilizes map services housed at other agencies, all of which are invisible to end users.

Listed below are the involved EMPACT partners and their individual roles in the map service creation:

SDSU Climatologic Office (Weather)

Role: Provided meteorological data in a variety of formats for the Web site (historical data of precipitation, temperature, wind velocity, and other weather/climate data).

East Dakota Water Development District

Role: Provided data relevant to the project, including point source water pollution data, water quality project data, water protection ordinances, and geographic locations of environmental protection zones.

South Dakota Department of Environment and Natural Resources

Role: Provided base data, including digital orthophoto quarter quadrangles, aquifer boundaries, basin boundaries, geological mapping, etc.


Role: Collected continuous water quality and stream flow data at monitoring stations for Web display.

City of Sioux Falls

Role: Was responsible for the development and is responsible for the maintenance of the Web application and houses the Web server and databases.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)

Role: Provided water quality and water quantity statistics. These data should include current real-time data when available and historical data with location information, capable of viewing and querying collection site locations, spill data, and other feature geographic data sets relevant to environmental impacts to the river.

Marshall and Associates, Inc. and ESRI-Minneapolis

Role: Performed application development for the project.

The application targets users with any education level who may have a desire for Big Sioux Watershed Drainage Basin information. Furthermore, the application is targeted towards users with a good understanding of computer usage and a general understanding of possible human and environmental impacts to a water source. The application was developed in an ArcIMS 4.0 environment with IIS 5.0 and ASP for server-side programming.

The Big Sioux River Drainage Basin Information Outreach Project has been a focal point for public information relating to a wide variety of environmental information. The Web site also has been highlighted in local television and newspaper articles relating to ongoing drought conditions, water levels in the Big Sioux River, and the recently installed real-time groundwater monitoring gages.

The City of Sioux Falls, in cooperation with the Washington Pavilion of Arts and Science, educated approximately 300 grade and middle school students on GIS Day (November 19, 2003) during Geography Awareness Week about the benefits of GIS, three-dimensional modeling, and river management. Much of the information displayed on the city’s EMPACT Web Site was used during the event.

In addition, the solid terrain model (STM) of the city and its Year 2015 Growth Area was used at a recent Town Hall meeting to help explain drainage patterns after a series of heavy rains produced inland flooding in Sioux Falls during the summer of 2004.

Long-Term Partnership With the USGS

The City of Sioux Falls and the USGS have embarked on a long-term partnership to install more stream gages, more groundwater monitoring sites, and several new precipitation gages in the Big Sioux Drainage Basin. The project will be jointly funded by both agencies, and all of the information will be available on the EMPACT Web Site.

Aerial Photography

Data obtained in the spring of 2004 from the Sioux Falls region will be posted for public use in 2005. Additional remotely sensed imagery from the Earth Resources Observation System Data Center will be posted as it becomes available.

Total Maximum Daily Limit (TMDL) Information

Data provided by the East Dakota Water Development District will be posted on the Web site.

Map Service Enhancements

Upgrades will include:

Recreational uses: river fishing sites, etc. Approach geographically via preset queries, graphics, canoe access points, fish and wildlife data, public park locations (state, regional, and city parks along the river and in the basin), hot link to photos of parks or access points, public swimming pools or lakes, and hunting possibilities in the basin area.

Other possible GIS data or links (future phase) may include: USGS topological maps, census data, voting district polygons, school districts, rural water system mapping or general information, major pipeline locations, landfill locations, brownfields site locations, and hazardous material spill locations.

Substantive Changes to Original Research Project Proposal

The objective of raising public awareness about the importance of protecting the Big Sioux River Drainage Basin did not change through the lifetime of this research project. Notable modifications to the research project included the following:

1. The use of a private consultant rather than hiring a graduate student; funds were budgeted to develop the ArcIMS application and Oracle installation. The City of Sioux Falls worked with an experienced firm, Marshall and Associates, Inc., whose staff is skilled in this area. This was a tremendous advancement in the creation of the interactive Web site and map service.

2. The acquisition of a STM of Sioux Falls. The STM has been especially helpful when discussing drainage and sanitary sewer issues with city planners and local decisionmakers. It has proved to be a remarkable public education tool that will have relevance for many years because it includes the city’s Year 2015 Growth Area.

3. Hardware and software modifications. The city’s Office of Central Services, including the IT support, implemented a SANS in conjunction with the EMPACT Project that required a modification to the original system planned in the proposal. The result is that under the new configuration, future costs for hardware/software upgrades will be distributed amongst several benefiting users, and the EMPACT Project-related costs will not be a financial burden for Public Works.

Journal Articles:

No journal articles submitted with this report: View all 1 publications for this project

Supplemental Keywords:

steering committee, community awareness, stakeholder involvement, geographic information system, GIS, interactive GIS, consortium, remote sensing, Midwest, agriculture, feedlots, hydrology, sustainability, water supply, groundwater, information technology, file transfer protocol, FTP, Oracle, drainage basin, public accessibility, orthophotography, satellite imagery,, RFA, Scientific Discipline, Toxics, Waste, Water, Ecosystem Protection/Environmental Exposure & Risk, Hydrology, Nutrients, Contaminated Sediments, Environmental Chemistry, pesticides, Monitoring/Modeling, Environmental Monitoring, fate and transport, aquatic ecosystem, microbial indicators, nutrient supply, nutrient transport, remote sensing, EMPACT, bioterrorism, contaminated sediment, coliform, coliform and crytosporidium alerts, triazine, web site development, community outreach, water quality, environmental monitoring data, public health alerts, public outreach, herbicides, groundwater

Relevant Websites: Exit Exit

Progress and Final Reports:

Original Abstract
  • 2001