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SDSU student saves Sioux Falls millions in water, dollars

An estimated one million fewer gallons of water are treated daily at the Sioux Falls Water Reclamation Plant due to student research.

The plant's dual-media filters, which use a combination of anthracite and sand to filter water, were operating well beyond their design life, according to Chris Schmit, director of South Dakota State University's water research center. The filters would clog and then have to be backwashed every 24 hours.

With guidance from Schmit, graduate student Sean Sieler worked with H.R. Green Engineering and the city of Sioux Falls to come up with a filtration system.

The media, which is much larger than conventional filter media, doesn't clog as quickly. The process uses half as much water as the previous method, Schmit said.

By doubling its capacity, the plant was able to meet the city's needs without having to build a second filtration building at a cost of about $10 million.