As a kid, my classmates and I had toured the water treatment plant.  I remember huge storage units of clear water, a dark room and something nautical - was it a boat?  See for yourself:

So over the years that life preserver somehow transformed in my mind into a boat.  I swore they had one there on the wall to fish someone out if they fell in the water.  No.  Just a life preserver, and the one hanging there is likely still the same one I saw there as a kid!

If you've been past the building and wondered what it's like inside,  The Water Treatment Plant in Sioux Falls may not be so "off limits" after all!  Tim Stefanich, Environmental Engineer and Gavin Graverson, Operations Manager graciously showed us around and it was fascinating to see the process of getting our water ready for drinking.  Here are interesting facts about the water you drink every day:

  • Sioux Falls water has been voted Best of the Best in South Dakota in 2011 & 2013.  They continued on nationally in the taste testing competition both years.
  • Your water is partially softened before it ever makes it to your tap.  About 50% of the hardness is eliminated on site.
  • Anything removed from the water is recycled.
  • It takes about 4-5 hours to completely treat water in basins that hold between 8-12 million gallons.
  • Has anyone ever fallen in the many basins? No, just in case there's a life ring.  As a child taking a field trip through the plant, I somehow remembered the life ring and translated it in my memory as a boat.  There's no boat.
  • Sioux Falls has 4 water towers, all controlled at the plant.  An impressive computer system allows operators to adjust the flow of water to each water tower and monitor usage and need.
  • Your water comes from several underground wells in the area.  In a time of great need, water can be taken from the river, but does take extra work to purify it.
  • Sioux Falls water is very safe.  They're continually testing and monitoring the quality on site and at the water towers too.
  • Security is impressive.  Cameras monitor the grounds, indoor rooms and close up cameras to important switches ensure nothing is overlooked.  Entry to the building, including reception areas require someone to buzz you in.
  • Remember that recent news story in Oregon where a kid peed in their city's open air supply of treated drinking water?  That will never happen here!  All water is stored in secure containers that are not exposed to the elements.  Can you believe open air water storage even happens these days?!  A bird could fly over, poop in it and people would drink it.  Never in Sioux Falls though!  Now I'm really thankful for the hard working staff at the Sioux Falls Water Treatment plant.  Their passion and pride in their work was impressive.

If you'd like to have a tour, just call and arrange a time.  Thanks to Paula for calling in to the station to let us know that the Sioux Falls water treatment plant is not off limits, and to Water Superintendent Greg Anderson for welcoming us to the facility.