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Why Watertown, South Dakota?

The answer is simple—ample opportunity and abundant possibilities. Businesses thrive in Watertown thanks to our strong workforce, low taxes and low cost of doing business. Watertown offers small town living with urban conveniences. You’ll find a variety of national chain stores, locally owned boutiques and big box stores.

Nestled between two lakes, Watertown has excellent outdoor recreation, hunting and fishing opportunities. Our neighborhoods are clean, quiet and safe. Our school district is easily one of the best in the state and our hospital is the largest privately owned facility in South Dakota.

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Watertown, located in Codington County in northeast South Dakota, is the fourth largest community in the state, with an estimated population of 21,482. Platted in 1878, Watertown was named for Watertown, NY, the former home of one of its early settlers. The name fits well, as we are located in the glacial lakes region on the Big Sioux River and between two beautiful lakes – Kampeska and Pelican.



The City of Watertown operates under Home Rule. To view the charter, click here.

All powers of the city shall be vested in the city council, except as otherwise provided by law or Charter, and the council shall provide for the exercise thereof and for the performance of all duties and obligations imposed on the city by law. The council shall act as a part-time, policy making and legislative body, avoiding management and administrative issues.

The mayor presides at all meetings of the council but shall have no vote except in the case of a tie.

The City Council is composed of the mayor elected at large and two aldermen elected from and by the voters of each ward of the City of Watertown.

The terms for the council members and the mayor is two (2) years, unless the City of Watertown adopts an ordinance establishing the term of office not to exceed five (5) years.



Watertown is served by two full-time fire departments, police force and the Codington County Sheriff’s Office. The Watertown Fire Department has ten trucks including a snorkel platform and two airport crash trucks. The department operates an emergency ambulance service and has four fully equipped ambulances.

The Watertown Police Department (WPD) consists of 36 sworn police officers and 19 non-sworn employees. The WPD has a Police Chief, an Assistant Police Chief, 3 Captains, 5 Sergeants, and 26 Patrol Officers.  Some of the Patrol Officers serve in additional assignments such as Corporal (4), Detective (4), Training Officer (3), and School Resource Officer (2) that provide public safety to the community. The town continues to be a very safe community and the crime rate is among one of the lowest in the area.

2013 Staff PhotoWatertown Fire Rescue is a dedicated organization with 36 full-time firefighters. Watertown Fire Rescue currently has two fully staffed fire stations serving the citizens of Watertown and surrounding Codington County.



South Dakota has no corporate income tax, no inventory tax, no personal income tax, no personal property tax and no inheritance tax.

Motor Vehicle Tax: 4% on the purchase price or fair market value (whichever is greater) of motor vehicles, recreational vehicles and motor-homes.

Sales & Use Tax: 6.5% (4% state, 2.5% city)



Prairie Lakes Healthcare System is a regional health system with the latest in medical technology. The skilled, compassionate staff specializes in everything from cardiology to radiation therapy, making first-rate healthcare convenient and close.

Sanford Health Watertown Clinic has also been providing high quality healthcare to patients living in Watertown and neighboring communities since 1999. They offer a wide range of services including family medicine, pediatrics, obstetrics/gynecology, surgery and therapy.

Brown Clinic is also in Watertown. The clinic consists of 19 physicians, 7 non-physician clinicians and over 100 employees with two locations. Brown Clinic offers internal medicine, geriatric care, pediatrics, general surgery, obstetrics/gynecology, podiatry, laboratory services and in-house radiology.



Watertown’s excellent schools are among the best in a state with access to technology, competitive sports and extra circular activities.

Lake Area Technical Institute (LATI) consistently achieves a graduation and placement rate that is almost twice the national average.  The school has earned a place on the ten finalists’ list and been named a finalist with distinction every year the Aspen Prize has been awarded (2011, 2013, and 2015). The Prize, awarded every two years since 2011, recognizes outstanding institutions selected from an original pool of more than 1,000 public community colleges nationwide.



Watertown is in the heart of the High Plains Region and enjoys four distinct seasons. Our hot summer weather is perfect for water sports while winter provides enough snow and cold for snowmobiling, cross country skiing and ice fishing. Autumn is filled with color and some of the best pheasant and waterfowl hunting in the nation.



Watertown is home to the Terry Redlin Art Center, which houses 150 original oil paintings from Americana artist Terry Redlin. The center and surrounding conservation park hosts thousands of visitors every year. The Bramble Park Zoo is a quaint hometown facility that allows visitors to get up close to the animals as they learn about them. Visitors can also enjoy art displays and world-renowned shows at the Goss Opera House and tour the home of South Dakota’s first Governor.

Request More Info

The Watertown Development Company is a non-profit organization established to own and operate buildings, lands and development areas for the economic benefit of Watertown. Use the form below to send a message to our executive team and we’ll be sure to respond as soon as we can.
  • You can call us directly at (605) 884-0340 or toll free at 1-888-898-6767