At a Glance

Tribal youth-focused regenerative housing and economic development project seeks to incorporate sustainable wastewater treatment and reuse into a holistic plan for restoration and water conservation.

Project Description

Biohabitats provided a sustainable wastewater infrastructure assessment for the proposed Thunder Valley Regenerative Community development located in the Porcupine District on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota. This project aims to incorporate sustainable and affordable wastewater infrastructure for treatment and reuse into the planned mixed-use development site.

Thunder Valley, comprised of 34 acres, contains 86 multi-family units, 31 single family units, commercial space, a gym and a youth center. Driven by a need for more housing, business opportunities and services on the Reservation, the goal of this Lakota-led project is to create a community with sustainability, interconnectedness, and healthy and supportive environments for youth, the elderly, and families at the center. The project seeks to build on traditional Lakota values while promoting innovative, homegrown Native solutions. A triple bottom line intent has been adopted by the Thunder Valley Community Development Corporation to ensure the project considers social needs (People), environmental responsibility (Planet), and economic vitality (Prosperity).

Biohabitats explored multiple on-site wastewater treatment, reuse and discharge options, keeping in mind not only cost and space requirements, but also environmental and aesthetic benefits to the community. The client desired a wastewater treatment and reuse system that was affordable, simple to operate and maintain, energy and space efficient, and capable of providing reuse- and surface-water discharge quality effluent on a consistent basis, even in the cold winters of South Dakota. Sludge generation and electricity consumption were of concern due to not only their ecological impacts, but to their associated long-term and ongoing operational costs.

The technologies were evaluated based upon USDA criteria for seeking funding that included water quality, environmental impacts, footprint, budgetary costs, O&M costs, and sludge production. Biohabitats took the evaluation a few steps further, however, to outline options for water reuse, irrigation and effluent discharge that reduced water demand while supporting both prairie and riparian restoration efforts on the site.




Physiographic Province

Great Plains


White River

Expertise Areas

Community, Infrastructure, Water


Thunder Valley Community Development Corporation, Pine Ridge Indian Reservation/Oglala Lakota


Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, Porcupine, South Dakota, United States

Project Team
  • BNIM