Past Winners

Policy Bulletin 117 - Scholarship Program

Successful Scholarship Applicants & Their Essays

2018 Scholarship Winners


Rural Water – Something We Can’t Live Without

By Hailey Haber

Most doctors suggest that the average person should drink 64 ounces of water every day.  Other people, like athletes, drink more.  But drinking isn’t the only daily use for water.  We use it to shower, brush our teeth, water our flowers, and to give drinking water to our pets.  We take water for granted everyday of our lives.  I live five miles west of Huron on an acreage.  Without Mid-Dakota Rural Water, I don’t know what we would do.

For the first four years of my life, my family did not have Mid-Dakota Rural Water.  We spent a fortune on installing a reverse osmosis system and tons of softener salt.  The biggest issue was the iron.  It stained our sinks, showers, and toilets.  It gave our clothes a brownish tinge when they came out of the wash.  We had to replace our dishwasher at one point because it had become so corroded from the iron.  Not to mention ingesting large amounts of iron can affect your stomach, liver, heart, and cause many other issues.

My family became involved in rural water in the early 70’s.  My Grandpa was a big part of establishing a rural water system in Eastern South Dakota.  My dad was also very involved with putting on the informational meetings when Mid-Dakota was just getting started.  It is so much nicer now that we have clean water from the Mid-Dakota Rural Water System.

In the state that we live in, we are prone to snow storms.  Occasionally we have one big enough to lose power.  When I was very little, we had a storm that left us without power for more than ten days.  We practically had to move to town to a friend’s house so we could clean ourselves and prepare meals.  We couldn’t even use our toilets because there was no water.  We would take buckets of snow from outside and melt them, so we could dump them in the toilets to flush them.  Now that we have Mid-Dakota, when we lose power we still have running water.  We had a storm earlier this year and even though it was dark in the house, I could still shower and get ready for school in the morning.

My family and I are so grateful to be a part of the Mid-Dakota Rural Water System.  We have clean and healthy water whenever we need, and it doesn't damage our clothes and appliances.  We don't know how we could live without it.






By Devan C. Kleven

With the construction and completion of rural water systems across rural America, and more specifically the Mid-Dakota Rural Water System, it has become evident that quality water spurs economic development.

The Ringneck Energy Ethanol Plant currently under construction in my hometown of Onida, is a shining example of what the Mid-Dakota System has done for Central South Dakota.  My Dad, talks about when people in the Sully County area first tried to build an ethanol plant bank in the mid 90’s.  There was a lot of community support for the project, tours were taken to other ethanol plants and at the time it was decided to model the Onida facility after the new facility that had just been built in Aberdeen.  The stumbling block that shut the project down was water. 

At the time, Onida’s water was still provided by deep artesian wells of poor quality.  The engineers on the project decided it would be cost prohibitive to treat the water, and if the water was not treated, the boilers would not last over a few years.

Beginning in 2016, Ringneck Energy LLC began looking at building an ethanol plant in Central South Dakota.  After looking at different areas it was decided that Onida was the preferred location due to several factors including a natural gas line, two elevators with a combined capacity of over 8 million bushels of storage, railroad infrastructure to handle unit trains, and most importantly access to quality water supplied by Mid-Dakota Rural Water.

Construction began last fall on the $150 million dollar project.  The economic impact even during the construction phase can be seen in both Sully County and the surrounding area.  There have been between 60 and 100 workers building the plant all winter with another 100 expected to be here by the end of April.  These employees and renting places to live, buying food, gas and whatever other items they would need daily.

The plant is scheduled to be running by November of this year and will produce 80 million gallons of ethanol and 212,500 tons of distiller’s grain from 25-30 million bushels of corn per year.  With this amount of corn being used locally, it is anticipated that this will increase the price for a bushel of corn by ten cents.  When the plant is up and running it is anticipated that there will be 40-50 full time employees at Ringneck Energy.  This many new jobs in a county that has a population of just under 1500 people, is a large economic boost.

This project would not have been feasible without the Mid-Dakota Rural Water System.




The Benefits of the Rural Water System 

By Matthew Larsen

My name is Matthew Larsen and I am a senior at Wolsey Wessington High School.  I have had the advantage and the benefits of rural water my entire life.  Our family has farmed between Wolsey and Wessington for over 100 years.  My family has had Mid-Dakota water since 2004.  It is an affordable, convenient water supply to guarantee clean water for drinking, cooking, and laundry that wasn’t available to farmers in our area 20 years ago.  Everyone had to depend on their own independent water supply by digging their own wells and relying on electric pumps.

Our family has a hog operation of over 5,000 hogs that depends on approximately 8,000 gallons each day for drinking, cleaning and staying cool in the summer.  We also have a cow/calf operation that relies on a steady supply of water during the winter months when surface water is frozen.  The water supply and quality for both people and animals has definitely improved since the addition of rural water.

Although I have grown up in an environment where I have had easy access to clean water my whole life, my father and his siblings lived much of their lives without easy access to it.  Living on a farm without rural water meant for my dad that if he filled up the bathtub twice the well would run dry, which made clean water much more of a luxury only used drink and to cook with. My grandpa had an artesian well which meant that he had plenty of water however the quality was low; it had a sulfuric, rusty smell to it and came out yellow.  Artesian water was mostly used for animals to drink from, but often had to be used for cleaning clothes, bathing, and drinking.  Since often times all he had to drink was artesian water, my father and his family mixed it with Kool-Aid packets to make it taste better.

I believe that most people take their clean drinking water for granted, but there are many people that have recently received access to available clean water or they are still waiting for access to clean water.  We are so fortunate to be one of the many that have this privilege. 




Mid-Dakota Rural Water System Benefits Ranchers

By Loretta Simon

My name is Loretta Simon and I live with my family on a farm near Seneca, S.D., where we grow crops and raise Hereford cattle.  We own some of the farm land, but some land must be rented in order to have enough pasture space for the cattle.  The pastures we utilize the most are on rented land six miles from our home.  Over the years, it has been difficult to ensure the cattle get enough clean drinking water because there was only one large water tank.  Some of the pastures have dugouts, but with several years of drought, what little water available in them was of low quality.  Two years ago, our veterinarian believed that the poor quality water our heifers drank led to premature calf loss and, in a few cases, the heifers even became infertile.  In order to protect herd health, my father decided new water lines and drinkers needed to be installed that could be accessed from several different pastures.  The United States Department of Agriculture offered an assistance program last year that enabled us to afford the water system upgrade we needed.  Mid-Dakota offered us the expertise needed to create a well-planned and constructed pasture water system.  Specialized equipment was brought in to lay new water lines that carry a safe, reliable supply of good quality water for our livestock.  Now, our cattle have a protected water source that improves their overall health, increases livestock production, and better utilizes the pasture land.



2017 Scholarship Winners


Rachel Husted

Water On The Ranch

Water is a natural resource vital for people everywhere.  The importance of water in our everyday lives is immeasurable and it is just as crucial to have a business who supplies it.  My family has had the pleasure of being a customer of the Mid-Dakota Rural Water System for 17 years.  Mid-Dakota has been a life saver for my family in many different ways.

Our ranch used artesian well water before we were fortunate enough to have Mid-Dakota water.  Well water is not an efficient way to run a ranch and use water in a home at the same time.  Without Mid-Dakota our family had to share water time with our livestock.  If any of our animals were drinking out of their tanks it would lower our home's water pressure.  This would make it so we could not use any water in the house for showers, drinking, toilets, etc.  With Mid-Dakota water we no longer have to plan our daily routines around the livestock's drinking patterns.

With artesian well water, you have a risk of getting sick due to all the minerals contained within the water.  Mid-Dakota's water is clean and does not contain these minerals, which allows the people and animals consuming it to stay healthy.  They also provide their consumers with the knowledge of conservation.  Their website has convenient information about preserving the water supply.  With this useful information we will be able to have water in times of need such as if there was a drought.

Our well stopped flowing water on its own which caused an electric pump to be installed.  A storm can cause us to lose electricity and the ability to get water from the well.  Mid-Dakota allows us to have water whether we have electricity or not which can be life saving.  Now there is no stress of making sure the bath tub is full with water before the storm arrives. 

Mid-Dakota water is vital while living on a ranch.  Not only has this provided clean drinking water but also has helped our pasture rotations.  Without Mid-Dakota we had to rely on well water or stock dams.  During a drought year, stock dams can dry up and cause my family to haul water or be forced not to use a pasture for lack of water.  This directly impacts our pasture rotation and the results can be catastrophic when our ranch is already short of feed for our livestock.  Now, we are able to place a tank in our pasture and operate it off of Mid-Dakota water.  This has allowed us the opportunity to provide our livestock with clean and dependable water no matter the location or type of year.

Mid-Dakota has been an immense help in our everyday lives.  It provides us with the benefit of clean water and dependability.  The company has been an amazing asset to our ranch and I do not believe we could operate properly without Mid-Dakota.


Brook Mallon


My dad has told me the story of how when the talk of a rural water system was being proposed to be coming through the farm, he was so excited with the prospect of having a good clean reliable source for water.  He had grown up with the artesian water and would always complain of how it would always be rusting out the washing machines and leaving such nasty stains on anything it touched, including his teeth.

When the initial payment was made for our house to be put on the list, he said that he didn't think it would take 7 more years of waiting to finally be able to turn on the faucet and know that it would be good clean water.  On a funny note, he was actually deployed in Iraq when the crew showed up to plumb it into the house, so we were actually the ones to get to turn on the faucet first, and then just tell him about it over the phone!  But he was so excited for it to finally be here.  Mom is just happy, as we have had the same washing machine for 19 years.

Dad had them also put in a pasture tap to have "just in case" the dugout went dry.  So he started to use it as a way to rotate the pasture and found that when the gates were opened that the cows would stand in the dugout to cool off and yet would walk 1/4 mile to drink from the tank of Mid Dakota Rural water.  Obviously, they could tell which tasted better too.  So now he has filled in the dugout and is only using the rural water as studies have shown that the calves are having more efficient weight gain with the better water.  He said that there is a big improvement when bottle-feeding baby calves with milk replacer and the Mid Dakota water versus using the artesian water.

It seems odd to say what Mid Dakota Rural water has done for me as I have almost always had it growing up, from what I can remember, (I was only 5 years old when it came).  But from listening to stories from my grandpa and dad, it is a very crucial part of our everyday life.


Max Ring

Keeping the Water Flowing

My name is Max Ring, I am a senior at Highmore-Harrold High School.  My parents and I live in Highmore, and we benefit from having Mid-Dakota water available to our community.  I don't really remember this, but my parents told me how the water was in our town before Mid-Dakota was available.  There was rust in the water, and sometimes it had a weird smell.  Now you don't have to worry about those things.  It is something we probably take for granted, but we are very lucky to have fresh, clean, water that is readily available for drinking, laundry, and showers.

Even though my parents and I live in town, we spend a lot of time at my Grandparent's ranch.  My uncles and cousins run the ranch and they raise corn, wheat, soybeans, and cattle.  Water is a very important part of running a ranch.  The ranch has a well that was the only source of water before Mid-Dakota came along.  Back in those days if you lost power from a summer thunderstorm or a blizzard you were without water because you lost the pump.  This could be very critical when you have a lot of thirsty cattle.  Just like humans, cattle need the right amount of water to stay hydrated, and help with digestion.  Now that they have Mid-Dakota, the water can still flow even when the electricity is off.

June 18, 2014 is a day that no one in my family will ever forget.  That is the day the ranch was devastated by a tornado.  As we drove into the yard it was unbelievable to see the destruction.  It is still painful to think about what it was like as we looked around, most all the buildings gone, or damaged beyond repair.  The cleanup started that very night as the farming community came together to save my Grandparent's house by putting in new rafters and a temporary roof.  The days that followed were hot and humid, with countless volunteers coming to help.  Even though there could be no electricity because of all the damage, we were never without water.  I would not even want to guess how many gallons were consumed in the days and weeks that followed.  Without Mid-Dakota a bad time for our family could have been a lot worse.


Brady Swier

The Lifeline of South Dakota

Mid-Dakota Rural Water System, Inc. brings water and life to the small town of Gettysburg, South Dakota.  We are fortunate enough in Gettysburg to have the big, beautiful, Missouri River just west of town.  Mid-Dakota blesses the citizens here by pumping that gigantic water source into our homes for everyone's ease of use.  With over five million gallons a day being pumped to a number of rural communities in central South Dakota, it remains clear that South Dakotans need their water.

Often times desert communities are built around a water source.  Most of central South Dakota remains around five inches of precipitation away from being considered a desert.  In many cases, water means life.  Obviously, people cannot live without water and neither can our crops or our animals.

Most of the communities that Mid-Dakota Rural Water System, Inc. provides for are not built around a water source.  The services that Mid-Dakota provides, give life to these little communities by bringing the water source to the people.  By using state of the art facilities outside of Pierre and lead free transmission lines, the people of each community that Mid-Dakota serves can be sure that the water they drink is clean and safe for their consumption.  The fluoride added to the water stands as an added benefit to the teeth of the people as well.  This water also eliminates a town's dependence on artesian well water that could contain a high mineral content.

Mid-Dakota Rural Water System, Inc. brings safe, clean water to the people of rural communities across central South Dakota.  This water brings life to our families, crops, pets, and other animals.  For myself, words cannot begin to describe how thankful I am for the services that Mid-Dakota Rural Water System, Inc. provide.