The mission of the South Dakota Water Resources Institute is to coordinate research and training at South Dakota State University and other affiliated educational institutions and agencies across the state in the broad area of water resources and reach out to stakeholders and citizens of South Dakota to address water-related topics and problems. It administers the funds received from the U.S. Department of Interior, as made available through the Water Resources Research Act of 1984 as amended, and from the state of South Dakota. Funds received through these sources targeted for research are directed toward solving state, regional, and national water problems. Graduate research training, technology transfer, and information transfer are services provided through the Institute.
The South Dakota Water Resources Institute is a part of the State Water Resources Research Institute Program (SWRRIP) as authorized by section 104 of the Water Resources Research Act of 1984 as amended. The state Water Resources Research Institutes authorized by the Act are organized as the National Institutes for Water Resources (NIWR). The Water Resources Institutes are presently under the jurisdiction of the Department of Interior, USGS and are the research arm of the USGS and the link to the nation's land–grant universities.
The South Dakota Water Resources Institute is accountable to the US Congress via its annual appropriation, a required annual report, and a thorough Congressionally mandated peer review conducted every five years under the auspices of the U.S. Geological Survey.