Water Quality


| Share

Water Quality in North Dakota

Water Test Tubes

Water is an important resource in North Dakota. There are many buried valley aquifers thanks to glacial activity during the last ice age. The glaciers also shaped the landscape that created the prairie pothole region where many waterfowl nest and raise their young during the summers. The Missouri river flows through North Dakota and in the 1950’s, dams were constructed on the Missouri to control the annual floods and provide water for drinking water (municipal and rural water), power generation, irrigation, industrial development and recreational activities. Garrison dam created Lake Sakakawea and Oahe dam created Lake Oahe and together these lakes inundated over 550,000 acres in North Dakota.

According to the ND Department of Environmental Quality list of impaired surface waters, coliform bacteria are the most common cause of impairment. However, some surface water sources are impaired due to sediment and other concerns such as nitrate-nitrogen, phosphorus and dissolved minerals (salinity).

Currently, through many years of periodic sampling and testing, groundwater and surface sources are generally of good quality so it is important to be vigilant to keep it that way. If you have questions about water sources, water quality or practices that can affect water quality, here are some resources that can provide some answers.

Thomas Scherer, NDSU Extension Agricultural Engineer


  1. Human Drinking Water 
  2. Livestock Water Quality 
  3. Pesticides and Water Quality 
  4. Water Quality Impacts from Oil Development Activity
  5. Spill Prevention Control and Countermeasure (SPCC) Requirements 
  6. Flood Information 
  7. Septic Systems 
Creative Commons License
Feel free to use and share this content, but please do so under the conditions of our Creative Commons license and our Rules for Use. Thanks.