Road runoff impacts Rapid City's water supply and fisheries

Rainbow trout at South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks in Rapid City.

RAPID CITY, S.D. (KOTA TV) - With snow brings slick roads in Rapid City, which is why crews treat and salt the streets.

However, anything on the surface can runoff into Rapid Creek, which is Rapid City's main water source.

"What a lot of people don't recognize is, all this runoff from either rain events or snow melt, that runoff goes into the streams untreated, so all the dirt and contaminants that are on the land surface go straight into Rapid Creek," said Galen Hoogestraat, hydrologist for the Dakota Water Science Center.

"It's something we've always done, treating and salting our roads, but what happens to these chemicals when the snow melts away," said Sunday Miller.

"With water supplies, if you have excess dissolved salts, it can get a bad taste in the water, and it also affects the trout fishery, if you've got excess salts and and sediments in the stream, the trout population really suffers," Hoogestraat said.

Rain and snow melt can carry contaminants into storm drains, from the drains it goes into the streams untreated.

Both Davis and Hoogestraat said Rapid City's water supply and fisheries are safe.

"There's been some studies in the past, some here in Rapid Creek for example that have looked at what runoff does, especially from streams, storm events, and really what we found, there's really not much of an impact," said Jake Davis, area fisheries supervisor for South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks.

Not much of an impact, one of the big reasons Davis mentioned is the moving water in Rapid Creek flushes runoff water through the City's treatment system.

"It adds to the quality of life here in South Dakota, it's a very popular recreational component, we also look at it from say our native species, I mean they can be an indicator in overall environmental factors and how the environment's doing in general, so it's important to monitor everything," Davis said.