Tea, South Dakota — The Lewis & Clark Regional Water System has received another shot in the arm.
The Minnesota Legislature has approved a $373 million Bonding Bill that included a $19 million “federal funding advance” for Lewis & Clark. The bill was signed by Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton. Along with L&C’s $9 million in FY15 federal funding, the $19 million is estimated to cover the construction of three things; the pipeline to Lincoln Pipestone Rural Water System’s connection three miles east of Adrian, a four million gallon ground storage reservoir four and a half miles southwest of Luverne and a booster pump station three miles southeast of Luverne. The funding will also allow project officials to get the segment of pipeline between Adrian and Worthington shovel ready in terms of design and easements.
Chairman Red Arndt of Luverne said, “It went into extra innings so to speak, but with strong support and leadership from Governor Dayton and our legislative leaders, including Senator Bill Weber, Representative Paul Torkelson, Representative Rod Hamilton and Representative Joe Schomacker, they got the job done! We cannot thank them enough. This is an incredibly huge boost for the project. If all goes according to plan Lincoln Pipestone will receive water at their Adrian connection in the fall of 2017. This also gets us one big step closer to Worthington.”
Minnesota also approved a $22 million federal funding advance during the 2014 legislative session. Those funds, along with $8.3 million L&C received in FY14 federal funding, are being used to construct the line from the Iowa/Minnesota border to Luverne and then east to Magnolia.
The term “federal funding advance” is used to describe zero interest loans from the states (South Dakota approved a total of $8.7 million in advances the last two legislative sessions) that will be paid back using future federal funding once all 20 members are connected and L&C is able to produce 45 million gallons a day of “non-firm capacity.” After the members are connected, an estimated $33 million is still needed to complete the project and make it more reliable (i.e. “firm capacity”). To ensure the states are not last in line in terms of future federal funding, the members have agreed to defer this construction until the states are repaid.
Iowa legislators have to-date not provided any federal funding advances for Lewis & Clark, but Lewis & Clark Executive Director Troy Larson says, “We’re working on them.”
In addition to the communities that are already connected in South Dakota, Minnesota, and Rock Rapids, Iowa, the system is eventually supposed to provide water to Hull, Sheldon, Sibley and Sioux Center, as well as two more systems in Minnesota and one in South Dakota.