South Dakota upgrades drinking-water rules

Capitol News Bureau
KELO Water

PIERRE, S.D. (KELO) — Drinking water systems in South Dakota should have to meet some tougher cleanliness standards, the state Water Management Board decided Wednesday.

Members voted 5-0 to require systems to fix problems when too many coliform bacteria are found. Under the old rule, they merely had to report when coliforms were found.

Coliforms generally indicate disease-causing organisms known as pathogens that can contaminate water supplies and often come from human or animal feces. One example is E.coli. 

Mark Mayer presented the rule changes. He is administrator for the drinking water program in the state Department of Environment and Natural Resources.

He said coliform regulation is “one of the most important rules” his office oversees.

“The rule monitors for the presence of bacteria,” Mayer told the board.

Next step is getting final clearance from the Legislature’s Rules Review Committee final clearance. The panel meets June 3.

Another drinking-water change adopted Wednesday would affect seasonal and non-community drinking-water systems.

They would have to monitor monthly rather than quarterly during the times they operate.

They also would have to follow a formal start-up procedure and produce a safe sample.

Mayer said the federal rules for these changes took effect in 2016. He said South Dakota officials waited because they thought changes were coming for lead, copper and chlorate rules.

The federal Environmental Protection Agency has been patient with South Dakota, according to Mayer, but now wants states to adopt the bacteria revisions.

He said EPA officials have been working with South Dakota officials: “They basically blessed our proposed rules.”

The public offered “zero” comments about the changes, Mayer said.

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