Agriculture is the lifeblood of the U.S. There would be no industry, innovation or commerce of any kind without human life sustained by the meat, grains and vegetables produced in the country’s Heartland. South Dakota’s agriculture makes a $25.6-billion economic impact every year, and that impact is felt throughout the country, because South Dakota is #2 in oats, #3 in hay, #4 in wheat, #5 in beef and lamb, and top-10 in beans, corn, pigs and honey.
Farming is more than a career—it is an essential part of the fabric of life in South Dakota, dominating the state with 19 million acres of cropland and 23 million acres of pasture. And water is the one thing farming absolutely relies on.
Across the state’s 77,116 sq miles, the water storage tanks dotting the landscape represent its heart. Like a heart, rural water districts pump a critical resource to places where it is needed—to wheat fields, cattle pens, flourmills and nurseries. In South Dakota, rural water districts promote and sustain life on approximately 32,000 farms and in hundreds of communities. Rural water districts take on great importance because the costs involved in water provision are too great for small municipalities to go it alone.
Increased demand means districts such as Randall Community Water District is processing and pumping 24/7, which requires a great deal of electricity. Districts also face dealing with the cost of enhanced treatment procedures to meet environmental regulations, high infrastructure costs and rising chemical costs.
Like other districts, Randall wants to control costs so its customers do not have to pay more for their water. The most effective solution is creating more storage capacity.
“By expanding our storage capacity, we can keep more water in reserve and reduce the number of hours a day we’re processing and pumping, which in turn keeps our electric bill in check,” said Scott Pick, general manager of Randall Community Water District. “Storage is and always will be a priority for us, and that’s why we rely on the experts at Great Plains Structures.”
Great Plains Structures (GPS) is the authorized CST dealer for the region and recently installed an Aquastore tank for Randall at Lake Andes, effectively increasing the district’s capacity by 3 million gal. The tank was part of an $8-million expansion that includes a new treatment facility and three transmission mains that will extend the district’s service area.
“We’ll go to any lengths to get these guys what they need,” said Rob Gravatt of GPS. “To us, liquid storage is more than just a tank or reservoir. We set out to understand Scott’s operations inside and out so we’ve worked closely with him and his team to control his expenses and increase his efficiency.”
Made in the U.S., Aquastore has been a consistent performer for the district. Randall Community Water District bought the first Aquastore in South Dakota 30 years ago, and today it operates a total of seven tanks. The newest has a capacity of 3 million gal, measures 130 ft in diameter by 33 ft tall, and is made of glass fused to steel for durability and performance. In fact, it is the largest glass-fused-to-steel bolted tank ever built for a rural water system in South Dakota and one of the largest water tanks in the state.
CST designed the Aquastore with the elements in mind. The glass coating applied at the factory makes it highly resistant to extreme conditions. Plus, there is no need to repaint, and maintenance costs are lower than for other tank types.
“We have some of the harshest weather in the nation, and only Aquastore performs well in the elements,” Gravatt said. “This tank will look like new after 30 years.”
Construction of an Aquastore is simple. The roof is assembled first and then lifted with a jacking system so the individual steel panels can be assembled underneath. Crews work at ground level and require only a few feet of space around the foundation. If a need for increased storage capacity is anticipated in the future, an Aquastore can be designed for expansion at a later date.
Situated in southeastern South Dakota and bordering the Missouri River, Randall is one of the oldest districts in the state, with 3,000 miles of pipe. The district sold more than 1.3 trillion gal last year. It is one of approximately 30 regional rural water systems in South Dakota, which collectively serve most cities and towns in the state in one form or another.
“The district has a high profile because we supply an essential resource to homes, businesses and farmers,” Pick said. “With so much at stake, we set the highest standards for quality and service, and we wouldn’t be able to maintain those standards without our storage partners at Great Plains Structures.”
Pick says he is merely a caretaker. He knows the nation’s demand for what South Dakota produces will remain long after he is gone. Water still will have its essential purpose at the heart of society. He wants to pass on a sustainable, time-tested delivery system to future generations, which he knows he can do with the partnership of GPS and CST.