Past Winners

Policy Bulletin 117 - Scholarship Program

Successful Scholarship Applicants & Their Essays

2022 Scholarship Winners

Impact and Success of Mid-Dakota Rural Water Systems and What It Means to Me, My Family, and Our Rural Community
By:Makaivry Schatz

Mid-Dakota Rural Water Systems has created such a positive impact on so many rural families and communities. We are so fortunate to be able to enjoy the lifestyle Mid-Dakota Water has given us in a predominantly agricultural/rural area. The benefits this system has created is nothing short of amazing.

My grandpa has a farm east of Agar, SD, wherein my mom grew up. She loved living the farm life but remembers the struggles they endured. Their farm, of course, relied upon Artesian well water back in the day. Not only were the wells terribly inefficient but the water smelled horrible, tasted awful, had a very murky, cloudy appearance to it. Your skin and laundry never really felt quite clean. The main thing she clearly remembers were the rust issues the well water caused to everything including pipes, dishwashers and washing machines, sinks and bathtubs, and even her two sisters' white-blonde hair which was apparent in their school pictures. She also remembers having to have extra fluoride put in her drinking water since well water was untreated. At that time, the farm was flourishing with horses, livestock, swine, sheep, chickens, and even a few
dairy cows. There were many chores to be done and hauling water was an important but time consuming one. They tried to keep a big garden planted for fresh produce and canning and her family relied heavily upon and prayed often for plentiful rainfall. Rain was the only option for keeping stock dams full to help livestock remain hydrated and healthy and for crops to be irrigated. There was always fear of having a drought which in turn affected crop yield. Even in my parents' early adult years when co-owning an electrical business, they remember the maintenance issues with the wells and the tough job of crawling down into them with their dark, damp "unknowns" to make repairs. A farming family could possibly be without water for days until repairs to the well could be done.

I currently live in the small rural community of Gettysburg, SD, and think to myself how fortunate and grateful I am to have the benefits of what Mid-Dakota has given my family and community in providing us with good tasting and contaminate-free water to drink and cook with and clean water for good hygiene, household cleaning and laundry. There is great comfort in knowing Mid-Dakota's water helps with not only our overall good health but also for the health and safety of our livestock and animals, lawns and gardens, and agricultural crops.

My mom currently works as finance officer for the city and knows first-hand how important Mid-Dakota's water is in keeping up with the water demands of the community. A hometown's pride is very important. Keeping up with beautification in a town by having decent lawns and gardens, and nice parks with healthy trees, helps communicate to the world who you are as a community and directly correlates to its vibrancy, growth and sustainability. It shows what we stand for and that we are a welcoming place for families and businesses to want to live in and become a part of. We are able to say that by coming into our area, Mid-Dakota has actually helped improve the value of one's property and the beautification of the city as a whole. It has improved our community's quality of life and made our lives much easier by things being more efficient, cost effective, and safe. Mid-Dakota's knowledge, hard work and dependability make it a service that is truly a blessing to have. Not only does Mid-Dakota provide simplification and convenience but promotes high public satisfaction. Mid-Dakota provides many jobs, continues to strive for improved customer service, and maintains a responsiveness to the needs within our rural areas. I know rural water is important in so many different ways. I just want to say
"Thank-You" for making a large and significant difference to not only myself and my family's lives but also the community I live in and call home.



Mid-Dakota, My Community and Me
By: Landon Mohr

The Mid-Dakota Rural Water System was developed years before I was born. I don't remember a time when I did not have access to convenient, high-quality water. That doesn't mean that I can't appreciate it, though. In fact, I would go as far as to say that I appreciate having access to it every day of my life. I miss it when I leave. When I visit my grandparents' farm, I see rusty and crusted over water spigots. I feel lucky that I don't normally have to deal with such issues. Well water just doesn't compare to properly filtered water. In the news, you
can often hear about the latest potable water disaster. A few years ago(and even up until today) that meant Flint, Michigan. More recently is the hard water issue in Las Vegas, Nevada. I sometimes hear the horror stories of Huron's water situation before the Mid-Dakota Rural Water System: about the combination of well and James River water, about the excessive chlorine taste and about the health concerns. Thankfully, I've always had a reliable source of clean water.

Far more important than my personal experience is the experience to the rest of town. Clean water is important to many industries. Two especially water-intensive businesses are the turkey plant and ethanol plant. They say that as many as twenty gallons can be used in the processing of a single turkey. In the production of one gallon of ethanol, three gallons of water are used. The access to clean water afforded by Mid-Dakota helped them to make the correct choice to build in the Huron area, providing many jobs to our residents. The residents now also
have access to that clean water. Family, friends and peers alike have access to convenient, affordable and clean water.



The Benefits of Rural Water
By: Madeline Knox

The Mid-Dakota Rural Project started in the mid-90s and brought reliable, clean, and safe water to communities across the state. One of those communities was Highmore. I talked to my father about what it was like before and after rural water came to the community, and he provided some insight to just how important this project was for Highmore.

Before the rural water project, the main source of water our farm had was artesian well water. This water is not always the safest to drink and may be contaminated by pesticides, bacteria, lead, and other dangerous chemicals. It also stained sinks, toilets, and clothes because of its mineral composition. Rural water solved these problems for his household. It provided clean, safe drinking water and did not cause staining.

Not all problems before rural water were in the home. Some of our pastures did not have a water source because there were not aquifers underneath them. In those pastures, surface runoff was the main water source for the cattle. If there was a dry year, you couldn't graze that pasture because there was not enough water. The quality of water in pastures is important. Just last summer we added rural water to some pastures that didn't previously have it. My dad says they noticed an increased weening weight and that in their eyes the overall health of the herd improved. Rural water was also important for growing on our farm. Clean water is best for chemical mixing and application when spraying. Lastly, on the farm it is nice to know that all the water in our hydrants are the same water that come out of the tap at home. You can always get a drink on a hot summer day, wherever you are.

This last year, the water shortage in the western United States has made me grateful for our water supply here. The Missouri River has always provided an abundance of water to our area, and I am thankful I live by it and get to reap its benefits. Mid-Dakota has provided this area a safe and stable environment for generations to come. I appreciated this opportunity to learn more about rural water and the benefits of it.


What Has Mid-Dakota Done for Me?
By: Carter LaMont

My great-grandfather used to tell a lot of stories to me when I was younger. A detail from some of his stories was that he didn't have running water in his rural home. I sometimes think back to those days and realize how difficult it would be without it. I take it for granted that there is clean, fresh water pumped into my house every day, but I am truly thankful for it.

I live on a ranch a half hour from town where my family raises about 200 pairs of black Angus cattle. As a regular human being, rural water is extremely important to me; I drink it, I bathe with it, and I even wash my car with it. However, I am more than a regular consumer. I am heavily involved with livestock, so I know that rural water and Mid-Dakota's services are essential for the lives of our cattle. Almost all of the grass pastures we own do not have a natural dugout to collect rainwater. Instead, there is a reliable source of water pumped into water tanks that the cattle drink out of.

When we purchased the land that we own now, some of the tanks were connected to a well instead of Mid-Dakota water. We noticed that the calves that were in these pastures looked sick and smaller than the calves in  pastures with Mid-Dakota water. In recent years, we have been switching our water tanks over to Mid-Dakota. A trench is dug, the mainline is tapped into, and everything is hooked up quickly. After the switch to Mid-Dakota, the water is cleaner and our calves are healthier. This has led to higher selling prices at market for our calves, earning us more money on sale day.

My community is made up of rural ranches just like ours. They all do business with Mid-Dakota and know how important their services are to our community. Everyone in the agriculture industry has experienced Murphy's Law anything that can go wrong, will go wrong. During the dog days of summer, clean water is vital for the safety of our livestock. However, water tanks sometimes break, causing water to overflow onto the ground. It is a very stressful situation. The only good thing is that Mid-Dakota is there to help. In one call, the friendly staff
can quickly tell you how many gallons of water were used over a period of time, along with the exact location of the water tank that was overflowing. Mid-Dakota has earned a reputation in my community of being a very helpful and friendly company.

Rural water is essential. Without it, my family and our livestock wouldn't be able to survive. Mid-Dakota goes the extra mile in the rural water industry. They provide high quality water at a low price, while having a friendly staff to help in any situation. My family and community are so thankful for Mid-Dakota and the excellent services they provide.


2021 Scholarship Winners

What Rural Water Means to Me by Landon Severson

Over the years rural water systems have become increasingly popular in our area. Previously, families had to use water from Artesian wells and often times that meant hauling water to various places such as shops, barns, and houses. With the addition of rural water systems to our area, we have been able to improve our quality of life and increase the efficiency of our farming and ranching operation. Having good, quality water to use in our house is certainly a plus as well as being able to get our spray trailer loaded quickly so we can get out and get the acres covered. A third way that we use the rural water system to our advantage is with our cattle. We finish anywhere between 600-900 head of cattle every year, and the summer heat always causes us problems. We started running water from the rural water system to tanks for them rather than well water and it helped to cool them and reduce our losses to heat. Ease, efficiency and cost reduction are all ways that the rural water system has benefitted our operation as well as many others in the area. Another advantage to the rural water system is that the water is more safe and clean than water from wells. In my eyes, there are not many disadvantages to the rural water system. It has helped us prevent losses and save money as well as speed up our spraying process and allow us to easily wash equipment as our shop. Overall the rural water system is a gift to those of us out in the country, and it sure beats having to haul water everywhere to get jobs done. 


Mid-Dakota Rural Water Systems and my Family’s Farm by Josie Mehling

My family’s farm has been operating for generations. That being said, Mid-Dakota changed my family’s lives for the better when they started their services.

Mid-Dakota ensures that fresh, clean water is economically available to pastures and farms that would otherwise not be able to afford or access water sources. Prior to Mid-Dakota Rural Water, my family had to depend on dugouts and stock dams, two sources that heavily rely on rainfall, to hydrate our livestock. There were many times that our pastures were not utilized due to the water sources being dried up. Now, with Mid-Dakota, we are able to keep livestock in our pastures without worrying if they will have water. We now know that we can depend on them to get water our to our pastures, even in a drought.

Just over the last couple of years, the well that was supplying water to our watering tanks in our lots started to dry up. We immediately thought of Mid-Dakota and knew we needed to get these tanks connected before our cattle were let without water. Without hesitation, the hookups were installed and my family was assured that our cattle would have access to water – even when the well would eventually dry up.

Not only do we have rural water in our pastures, we also have it in our houses and barns. During calving season, it is not unusual for us to have a few bottle calves in our barn. Thanks to Mid-Dakota, I know I am feeding my calves with fresh, clean water that will not make them sick. I no longer worry about any contaminates that would otherwise be in my calves’ bottles.

My family and I are so grateful for access to rural water. Now that I have seen all the benefits of clean, rural water, I cannot imagine ever going back. Thank you, Mid-Dakota Rural Water Systems!


Mid-Dakota Water Gave Me a HOME by Jayden Mutchelknaus

 Before I was born, my parents bought an abandon property out in the country, north of Wolsey, SD.  It was not livable other than by some racoons, pigeons, and miscellaneous rodents. It was once a gas station and bus stop constructed out of concrete block back in the early 1950’s.  It was built to last, but over the years had been ‘left for dead’.  It needed lots of things, like windows, insulation, plumbing, electrical, roofing, siding, trees, fences, barns, etc.  But more important than any of that, to be useable…it needed water. 

The property would not have been useful for people or animals if it didn’t have water.  Even planting trees for wind protection and grass for grazing would have been difficult on the dry years without rain. What would we drink, how would we cook, do laundry, wash dishes, or put out a fire? Lucky for us, Mid-Dakota Rural Water was taking new customers at that time and it made the list for a rural water tap.

That was over 20 years ago. With dedication and hard work, the abandon property eventually became the home where I was raised. It’s not like everyone else’s house that I know, but it’s a really cool place to live. As the song goes, I left my mark on it and it left its mark on me. Who knows, maybe someday I will own it and my kids will be raised there too. Either way, I am thankful for Mid-Dakota for bringing water to Wolsey and giving me a great place to grow up.


Mid-Dakota Rural Water System’s Impact on My Family and Community by Malia Schumacher

Having lived in western Hughes County for most of my life, I have always depended on water from Mid-Dakota Rural Water System. My parents, however, did not. When my parents were newly married, they moved out of the county. Mid-Dakota Rural Water System was not available in western Hughes County at the time, so they had to use well water. My parents found using well water difficult as the minerals in it made it smell bad and it would rust things. My mom remembers that over time, she noticed that the bathtub, dishwasher, and even the siding of their house started to turn an orange, rusty color from the well water. She also mentioned that when my older sister was born, she had to add fluoride to her drinking water since the well water was untreated. These problems that well water posed cased a lot of frustration for my parents.

Several years later, Mid-Dakota Rural Water System placed a water line nearby and parents eagerly took the opportunity to get connected. When they started using Mid-Dakota water, my parents realized that is caused little mineral buildup or corrosion compared to well water. Additionally, the taste of water greatly improved. My parents loved it’s clean, refreshing taste. They felt safe drinking it, knowing the contents in the water and that Mid-Dakota treats it properly to ensure its quality. They also knew that with Mid-Dakota Rural Water System, they could still have access to water even if the electricity was out.

My parents are not the only ones in my community who have appreciated the improved quality of water from Mid-Dakota Rural Water System. Just recently, in the obituary of our elderly neighbor who has lived in western Hughes County for over 60 years, it noted that living on a farm with only well water was challenging for her. She loved tress, but she struggled to water and nurture them with the harsh well water. She was extremely grateful when Mid0Dakota Rural Water System came to the farm because “she not only could nurture trees but also began a passion for growing watermelons which she loved to give to family and neighbors.”

Hearing about these positive impacts Mid-Dakota water has had on my community made me realize how fortunate I am to have access to it. I am so thankful that Mid-Dakota Rural Water System has offered clean, dependable water for over twenty years to families in my community. Mid-Dakota Rural Water System makes it possible for more families to enjoy rural living, allowing communities to grow and prosper.