Iowa And Minnesota Communities Continue To Wait For Federal Funding Of Lewis & Clark Water System
Date posted - July 12, 2012
Sheldon, Iowa — Sheldon, like many other towns in northwest Iowa is short on water — both in the near term with the dry conditions — and in the long range, as it relates to economic development. That’s part of the reason the Lewis and Clark Regional Water System is so important to northwest Iowa. We had a chance to talk to Sheldon City Manager Scott Wynja about the project.
And it’s that federal funding that is the fly in the ointment right now. He says that started slow, but ramped up from 2006-2008 with $20-25 million a year. But all of a sudden, that funding all but ended he says.
In fact, the federal government isn’t even — in layman’s terms — “keeping up with the interest,” he says.
He says the feds and Congress are doing it under the guise of saving money, but it’s actually costing the taxpayers more money the longer they wait to complete the project.
Meanwhile, eleven of the 20 communities are hooked up to the system already, with a ribbon-cutting ceremony planned for the treatment plant in August. We asked Wynja if the eleven systems receiving water are benefiting at the expense of the remaining nine in northwest Iowa and southwest Minnesota.
Wynja says there is even an agreement in place if at some point the remaining cities and rural water systems need to pull out.
As if to underscore the point about water being necessary for economic development, Agropur Cheese officials in Hull have made it public that they are delaying an addition to their plant until they can be assured of getting more water and more milk.
The recent news about Hull’s water supply and Sioux Center’s new well construction has caused the Sioux Center city council to do a review of recent daily water use as well.
In the short term, water use restrictions have been put into effect in a number of areas. The strictest restrictions are in place in the city of Hull, with restrictions also in place in Rock Rapids. Sioux Center officials say heavy consumption is putting a significant strain on their water system. They are asking all water customers to limit water use and use it wisely until further notice. Water use restrictions are also in place for the Lyon and Sioux Rural Water System.
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