Pierre Drinking Water Treatment Plant Wins Central South Dakota Engineering Project of the Year

“It looks nothing like a water treatment plant, and that’s exactly what city leaders wanted,” said Dekkenga.

SIOUX FALLS, SD – MARCH 7, 2023 On February 27, 2023, Pierre, SD’s new Drinking Water Treatment Plant was awarded the Central South Dakota Engineering Project of the Year, presented by the South Dakota Engineering Society. The facility’s design was led by JLG Architects and the engineering consultant, AE2S. The project is now the largest in Pierre city government’s history, a $37.5 million investment approved by the public to improve the City’s drinking water and combat the water’s high mineral content.

The building transpired through a collaborative effort between the design team and the Owner team, led by several discussions focused on building materials and the design’s role in creating synergy with its park site setting. “We chose materials that communicated earthly qualities – precast with wood plank imprints, stone, and tones that mimic the South Dakota prairie landscape,” explained JLG’s Catherine Dekkenga, AIA, Principal Architect. “The massing of the building was sunk into the ground so only one story is visible above the ground, creating a building that became a part of the landscape.”

“It looks nothing like a water treatment plant, and that’s exactly what city leaders wanted,” said Dekkenga. “It’s not often you see a water treatment plant in a city park. It was fun to work with the City Parks Department and create a dynamic design that flows with the Missouri River landscape.”

Take a virtual tour of JLG’s design: Pierre Water Treatment Plant 02 (vimeo.com)

Prior to the opening of the new plant, the City’s water was obtained from a series of wells located throughout the community. Water was then treated at the wellhead and pumped to reservoir storage units for distribution, a process that yielded water high in minerals like manganese which was damaging to the City’s fixtures and sidewalks.

After a community survey indicated public interest in improving the City’s drinking water, the Pierre City Commission put the project to a public vote in June 2018. Three public meetings allowed city officials and contracted engineers to explain plans for the new treatment plant, resulting in a passing vote of 73%. In July 2020, the City Commission approved the facility design and project cost.

The City of Pierre started pumping water for the new treatment plant in December of 2022, marking the switch from the City’s well water source to the new treatment process using Missouri river surface water. The new Drinking Water Treatment Plant is located just south of the Missouri River highway bridge, a site recommended by a commissioned study from AE2S.

JLG Architects worked alongside AE2S, EAPC, PKG Contracting, Mayor Steve Harding, the City’s Project Manager, Gidget Palmer, and Utilities Director, Brad Palmer, to complete the project’s two years of design and two years of construction. In recognition of Pierre’s award, the project will be honored at the South Dakota Engineering Society’s 62nd Annual Conference on April 5, 2023, offering plant tours for the hosting parties.