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DENR’s Big Sioux River Flood Information System Receives Honor Award for Engineering Excellence

For Immediate Release: December 1, 2020

FOR MORE INFORMATION: Brian Walsh, (605) 773-5559

PROJECT WEBSITE: https://bigsiouxfis.org/


DENR’s Big Sioux River Flood Information System Receives Honor Award for Engineering Excellence


PIERRE – The South Dakota Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) is excited to announce its Big Sioux River Flood Information System (BSRFIS) received an Honor Award in the American Council of Engineering Companies (ACEC) Engineering Excellence Awards competition. The development of the BSRFIS was a collaborative effort with RESPEC, a national recognized consulting company headquartered in South Dakota.


The award was presented today during ACEC’s Engineering Excellence Awards Virtual Gala. It is one of only 20 projects to receive the Honor Award out of more than 200 projects submitted. Projects presented for ACEC’s Engineering Excellence Awards represent award winners advancing from hundreds of projects considered for state and regional awards. The BSRFIS is the first South Dakota project recognized as an Excellence Award winner by ACEC.


“We are proud to receive the Honor Award,” said DENR Secretary Hunter Roberts. “DENR staff along with RESPEC worked hard to build a reliable and accurate flood information system to help communities along the Big Sioux River prepare for and respond to flooding.”


In response to 2014 flooding, a state flood task force recommended DENR develop an accurate hydrologic computer model linked to real-time data to better predict flooded areas during high flow events. DENR’s Board of Water and Natural Resources recommended funding the effort through the 2015 State Water Plan and funding was provided over a two-year period from 2016 to 2018 to allow for development of the BSRFIS.


The BSRFIS is a combined effort between state government and private industry and is built on new hydrologic and hydraulic models that more accurately reflect the hydrology of the Big Sioux River Basin.

Using the new model information and Light Detection and Ranging (LiDAR), thousands of inundation maps were created and stored in a map library for retrieval on demand by BSRFIS users. The model includes various scenarios that may be encountered during a flood event, such as breaching of levees and debris plugged bridges.

As part of the project, new streamgages were installed on the Big Sioux River and key tributaries to help monitor real-time river stages and predict maximum stages during a flood. The new modeling and streamgages will help the National Weather Service and state and local officials more accurately predict river stages in a flood event.


ACEC is a federation of 52 state and regional councils representing more than 600,000 engineers, architects, land surveyors, and other specialists. Its primary mission is to strengthen the business environment for member firms through government advocacy, political action, and business education. ACEC of South Dakota includes 31 member firms, representing over 700 engineering related professionals across the state.


Founded in 1969, RESPEC is a global leader in geoscience, engineering, data, and integrated technology solutions for major industry sectors. The firm’s national headquarters are in Rapid City.

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