Bill To Save Lewis & Clark Water Project
by Tom Hanson, Anchor
April 17, 2013 9:07 PM
Unless something changes, there will be no construction on the Lewis & Clark Water Pipeline over the next year. That's why several senators from South Dakota and the surrounding states have pinned their hopes on a bill that would force the federal government to properly fund six current rural water projects.
The Lewis and Clark Water Project, which is only 65% complete, would bring Missouri River water to 300,000 people in South Dakota, Minnesota and Iowa.
The Authorized Rural Water Projects Completion Act would provide $80 million a year for water projects until they are completed.
Sioux Falls is already connected, but many communities that need the water are frustrated. A fact not lost on supporters of the legislation like Senator Al Franken of Minnesota.
"We have no water from Lewis & Clark in Minnesota, and we have paid, the Minnesota local governments have paid 100% of what they are required to pay and have not gotten a drop of water".
Franken says at the current rate the minnesota projects will never get done. He also says towns in southwest Minnesota have done their part.
"Rock County has paid 1.75 million dollars in maintenance and upgrades. Lincoln County and Pipestone 6 million dollars for a new water supply because Lewis and Clark is not kicking in, Luverne has spent $650,000 for a new water reclamation system and a new well, this is unacceptable."
Senator Tim Johnson is a co sponsor of the bill, along with senators from North Dakota, New Mexico and Iowa. The group which includes both Democrats and Republicans is urging Senator John Thune to lend his support.
The board chairman of the Lewis and Clark Regional Water System says the amount of money for the project in President Barack Obama's fiscal 2014 budget proposal "leaves us completely dead in the water." Obama has included $3.2 million for the ongoing project. Chairman Red Arndt says that isn't enough to do any construction this year. He calls it a "travesty.