Big Sioux River Public Opinion Survey
In an effort to gauge public opinion regarding pollution within the Big Sioux River Watershed, a telephone survey was
conducted in 2006. Telephone interviews were conducted among two groups: Group A represented rural property
owners adjacent to the Big Sioux River between Watertown and Brandon; Group B represented adults over the age of
25 residing in the towns of Watertown, Brookings, Sioux Falls, and Brandon. A total of 149 individuals participated in
the study, 42 from Group A and 107 from Group B.
In a telephone questionnaire conducted by AMR Surveys, Inc. under direction of Paulsen Marketing Communications,
149 respondents were asked about their beliefs and attitudes concerning pollution in the Big Sioux River. The
respondents consisted of persons owning land along the Big Sioux River (Land Owners group) and persons randomly
selected from the towns of Brookings, Watertown, Brandon, and Sioux Falls (Urban group). The following items of
interest were found:
88% believe they have a significant obligation to protect water quailty for future generations.
Nearly 100% believe that the Big Sioux River is worth protecting and would support or strongly support clean-up
65% of respondents, including 52% of Land Owners and 70% of Urbanites, would pay higher taxes to protect water
quality in the Big Sioux River.
70% of respondents support regulations on the use of private land to protect the water quality in the Big Sioux River.
45% of Land Owners would submit to regulations on the use of private property to protect water quality, while 24%
While 47% of Land Owners and 38% of Urban respondents consider themselves "Very Concerned" about Big Sioux
River pollution, they believe that only 21% and 7%, respectively, of others in their area are equally concerned.
16% believe that the Big Sioux River is "Very Polluted", and 55% believe it is "Somewhat Polluted". Urbanites (44%)
are likely to blame the land-use practices adjacent to the river for the pollution, while Land Owners (47%) are likely
to blame the water qualiyt in the creeks and streams that feed the river. Urban respondents perceive animal feeding
operations to be the biggest agricultural threat to water quality, while Land Owners perceive pesticides/herbicides to
be the biggest agricultural threat.
65% of respondents are not aware of efforts being undertaken to deal with water quality problems in the Big Sioux
River. This number does not vary significantly between Urban and Land Owners.
While 88% say something should be done to clean up the river, almost half (48%) of those people say they do not
know what should be done.
In summary, while most respondents believe the Big Sioux River is polluted and are generally willing to support water
quality protection measures, they do not know how the clean-up/restoration should be done or what measures they
should take to support it.
Some Comments from Respondents:
"I worry about water for my children's sake."
"Come to Moody County to see the pollution."
"I had never thought about how polluted it is, but I would like the poeple in town to know just how polluted the river
is and to take action onto whatever they find out."
"I think it's a great idea to clean it up because it's a beautiful river."
"I think we should clean up the uppper Sioux so the lake wouldn't be so dirty."
"No metal use to avoid polluting the river."
"I do not want regulations on anytihng to go overboard. Everyone needs to do their part to clean up."
"See to it that Game, Fish, and Parks watches what they do to the lakes and streams."
"Use moeny as efficiently as possible."
"Rewrite the buffer restrictions."