Past Winners

Policy Bulletin 117 - Scholarship Program

Successful Scholarship Applicants & Their Essays

2019 Scholarship Winners

    Get Out of the Pool, Rusty! by Jamie Holforty

I have to admit that I really took for granted the benefits of having rural water.  That is, until the day I met "Rusty".

For the first four years of my life, I lived within the city limits of Huron, where clean water flowed freely.  We then moved just outside of the city limits.  I remember my dad being happy about "getting on the list for rural water".  I had no idea what that meant, all I know is that by the time we moved in, the water was hooked up and we were once again receiving clean, free-flowing water.  Since I had never experienced artesian well water, to me, this clear tap water didn't really mean that much.  It was clean and good, but it was like all of the other water I had ever drank.

After a few years of living out in the country, my family decided to get a pop-up Intex pool.  Thinking she could save a little money, my mother decided to fill the pool with well water instead of the sparkly, clear, free-flowing water that Mid-Dakota provided.  The water looked pretty clear until she checked her pool filter.  That was when I met "Rusty".  That filter and what was on it was disgusting!  She sprayed the filter and added more chemicals to the pool, and again, Rusty appeared.  After several attempts, we finally drained the pool and said goodbye to Rusty.  His image was hard to escape though.  I started imagining drinking that water, washing clothes and dishes in that water and bathing in that water!..That is when I asked my dad what it was like having well water growing up.  He said that it would corrode and stain your appliances as well as your tubs, sinks, and clothes.  You also needed a pressure pump to get the water to your house and if your electricity went out, you would have no water flow.  He did admit that he kind of missed the taste of the artesian water.  That is when I truly realized the advantages of having Mid-Dakota water!  WATER IS NOT SUPPOSED TO TASTE!

Thanks to Rusty and stories from my dad, I can now say I am truly grateful to Mid-Dakota for providing clean, healthy water to my family as well as other rural families!



Allison King on left and Allison with Manager Scott Gross receiving her certificate.

What Mid-Dakota Has Done for My Community
by Allison King

People can easily forget how lucky they are to have the things that they do.  Something as simple as access to clean water is something that people should not take for granted.  I personally cannot recall a time in my life without Mid-Dakota water.  All throughout my life, Mid-Dakota has supplied my family and me with a fresh water supply.  I decided the best way to understand how lucky I am to have Mid-Dakota is to interview people who remember tougher times; times without a great water source.

When debating whom to interview, one special person came to my mind, my grandma.  My grandma was full of interesting stories.  One of these stories was how she had to get water to her house.  When my grandma was younger, she did not have water that just comes out of the faucet; this is something that I am lucky to have.  In order to get water into her house, my grandma had to go outside. no matter the weather, and catch water in buckets.  She would then have to carry these full buckets of water into the house.

My grandma and her family didn't just have to worry about getting water for themselves.  Living on a farm, my great-grandparents had to figure out how to give water to their cattle, as well.  My great-grandparents had a windmill that ran a pump, that would then fill the water tanks.  Having indoor plumbing and easier access to water has been very beneficial to farmers as well.

Going a generation forward, I decided to ask my mom about her experiences without Mid-Dakota Rural Water Systems.  My mother has lived in Virgil, SD, her entire life.  During the tough time before Mid-Dakota, the water mains in the town would break frequently.  This was because the mains were old, and the cold weather affected them negatively.  It could take up to a couple of days before the water mains could get fixed.  During these times, my mother's family would have to gather water in the bathtub.  The water that they collected had to be used for any different purposes.

After all this time of struggle for the town of Virgil, the town, and the inhabitants of the town, were very fortunate to become signed up with Mid-Dakota Water.  Mid-Dakota replaced all the water mains and the pump house.  Also during this time, my dad became involved in replacing the pump house.  Eventually, once the main water lines could be brought into the Virgil area, the town became directly hooked to Mid-Dakota Rural Water Systems.

In interviewing two generations of my family, I realized how much times have really changed; I realized how lucky I am to have the water source that I do.  I would just like to thank Mid-Dakota for everything that they have done for the town of Virgil and everyone else's lives they have made a difference in.



 What Mid-Dakota has done for Me and My Community
                       By Christine Michlitsch

When my family and I moved here to Tulare awhile back, we were just starting to settle into our new house.  However, when we were just starting to move in, we noticed a white crusty build up in our sinks, bathtubs, and dishwasher.  We weren't totally sure at the time what it was but we were told by the previous owner that all that gross buildup was from the well water that used to run to our new home.  We were so pleased when we were informed that the city, since previous owners, had switched to Mid-Dakota.  The members of Tulare can now have confidence knowing that the water they are consuming and using for daily activities is both safe and has refreshingly light taste.

The quality of the water has also changed dramatically since switching to Mid-Dakota.  There has been a long-standing joke in the community about how the community is so pleased they can use glass glasses again.  A member of our community once told me that the well water, that they had before switching to Mid-Dakota, was so hard it could break the glass glasses.

The taste of the water that Mid-Dakota provides is absolutely pleasing to the taste buds.  I remember during all sports seasons in school, the players would make sure to fill all their water bottles from the school or their homes because the water quality and taste of other towns we traveled to couldn't even compare.


What Mid Dakota Rural Water Means to My Family
by Derek Thompson

Mid Dakota water has made my life and my family's life much safer and more convenient.  Before we got Mid Dakota water, we had to use our well water for everything.  Our well water is naturally soft, but it is high in sodium and sulfates, which causes it to smell like rotten eggs.  The smell was very noticeable whenever we would drink it or take a shower.  It also caused the racks in our dishwasher to rust out.  When my parents moved to our house, all my mom's houseplants died from the well water.  Now that we have Mid Dakota, we can water our houseplants and garden without worrying about the water killing the plants.  Before we had Mid Dakota, we rented a reverse osmosis unit to make our drinking water.  This meant my parents had to add fluoride drops to the water when my sister and I were babies.  When we got Mid Dakota water, my parents didn't need to worry about that anymore since Mid Dakota already has the right amount of fluoride added to the water.  If our well water would have become contaminated, we probably wouldn't have realized it until it caused health problems.  Mid Dakota water gets sampled regularly, so we don't need to worry about water quality issues.  There have been several times when we have lost power, which means our well pump's pressure system quickly stops working.  But since we have Mid Dakota, we still have good pressure and can get water until power comes back on.  Our family raises sheep and gamebirds, and we usually water them with well water.  But one time when our well pump failed, we had to give them Mid Dakota water until we could get the pump replaced.  If we didn't have Mid Dakota water, we might have lost some of our livestock.  Because of Mid Dakota, my family has access to clean and safe water, and for this I am very thankful.



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.