In 1972, Congress passed the federal Clean Water Act. One of the requirements of the Clean Water Act is that each state develop standards for their waters to ensure the beneficial uses, such as swimming and fishing, were protected.
A water quality standard defines the water quality goals of a water body, or a portion of the water body. The water quality standards regulations establish the use or uses to be made of a water body, set criteria necessary to protect the uses, and establish policies to maintain and protect water quality. South Dakota has developed surface water quality standards for all waters of the state, as required by the Clean Water Act. South Dakota's water quality standards are designed to protect public health and welfare, enhance the quality of water, and uphold the goals of the federal Clean Water Act.
The Administrative Rules of South Dakota (ARSD 74:51:01, :02, and :03) contain South Dakota's surface water quality standards. Chapter 74:51:01 contains both the numeric and narrative criteria to protect the uses of the state's water bodies. Chapters 74:51:02 and 74:51:03 designate the beneficial uses assigned to each specific water body in the state.
Certifications issued by the South Dakota Department of Agriculture and Natural Resources after reviewing federal permits and ensuring they will not impact water quality or violate SD water quality standards.
Each year, the Departments of Health, Agriculture and Natural Resources, and Game, Fish & Parks cooperate to perform fish collection and sampling to monitor for mercury and other toxic substances in South Dakotas fish populations.
Every two years, SD completes a comprehensive analysis of the states surface water quality and reports the condition of the states waters to EPA.
South Dakota Department of Agriculture and Natural Resources manages a network of river and stream water quality monitoring stations that are monitored on a regular basis for a variety of pollutants and water quality indicators.
Projects designed to enhance or restore the water quality, habitat, fish life propagation uses, and recreational uses of a waterbody are encouraged and promoted by various state and federal agencies. All such projects must be approved in advance by DANR.