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Ribbon Cut, Water Flowing — But Federal Funding? Not So Much

Lewis and Clark Water Treatment Plant
Vermillion, SD — Federal funding is barely a trickle, but the water itself is flowing. However, not everyone is reaping the benefits.

The Lewis and Clark Regional Water System has been delivering Missouri River aquifer water to 11 of the 20 member communities since July 30th, but local, state, and federal officials took time out Tuesday to cut the ribbon and pat some backs at the system’s water treatment plant, just outside of Vermillion. Tuesday marked the nine-year anniversary of the facility’s groundbreaking ceremony.

We talked to Troy Larson, Executive Director of Lewis and Clark about the day.

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He says they highlighted the milestone, but they remembered they aren’t done yet.

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The great majority of the member communities have paid their fair share toward the project, but the federal government has not even come close to fulfilling its promise for funding. Now, due to inflation and interest, the federal government owes the project $200 million.

The 11 members receiving water include; Sioux Falls, Beresford, Centerville, Harrisburg, Lennox, Parker, Tea, Lincoln County RWS, Minnehaha Community Water Corporation, South Lincoln RWS and Rock Rapids. For Minnehaha Community and Rock Rapids, service is only to one of their two connections. The Rock Rapids connection is the one worked out with Lyon and Sioux Rural Water to serve the Grand Falls Casino. The Rock Rapids water supply will not actually see any Lewis and Clark water until the pipeline gets to Rock Rapids.

In addition to the second connections for the Minnehaha system and Rock Rapids, the members who are not yet connected include: Madison, South Dakota; Hull, Sheldon, Sibley and Sioux Center, Iowa; Luverne, and Worthington, Minnesota, and the Lincoln Pipestone and Rock County Rural Water systems.

Larson says they are encouraged that the Bureau of Reclamation is hearing loud and clear the importance of completing the project in a timely manner.

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