Sheldon Could Abandon Lewis and Clark Water Project

Date posted - September 4, 2013

lewis & clark water towerThe Lewis and Clark Water Project was a main topic of discussion at Wednesday’s Sheldon City Council meeting.  City Manager Scott Wynja reported on concerns about the future of the project which is basically on hold because the Federal Government has not met their share of the funding.  The problem became more of an issue when congress banned ‘earmarks’, a process whereby members of Congress could add their favorite projects to the federal budget.  However, that legislation also banned earmarks for projects that had already been approved by congress.  This leaves Lewis and Clark without the funding they need to expand to communities such as Sheldon, Hull, Worthington and Luverne.

Wynja explained that the Lewis and Clark agreement provides for the use of the “Capital Call” approach.  Under this provision. the Board of Directors could issue a capital call to members in order to fund construction for the upcoming fiscal year that is not anticipated to be covered by federal or state appropriations.  A vote is scheduled for October 24th which if approved, would call on the member communities to raise $18.4 million dollars to extend the pipeline to Luverne, Minnesota.  Sheldon’s share of this would be seven hundred thousand dollars.  Federal funding, if it becomes available, would be used first to repay members for their capital call payment, without interest.  This idea was not met with favor by the Sheldon Council and they voted to instruct Wynja to vote against the capital call.  Wynja said that had been his intention as well.

The idea of Sheldon leaving Lewis and Clark was discussed.   Under the Lewis and Clark rules, a member could ask to have the System declared abandoned which would trigger a reconstitution of the Corporation among its eleven connected members while some or all of the unconnected members could be forced out, receiving only the return of their actual cash investment.  Sheldon’s investment already totals over two million dollars.  Some council members expressed the possibility of taking this route before October 24th to avoid the possibility of having to pay another seven hundred thousand dollars.  Wynja will confer with the City Attorney and Lewis and Clark Attorney on this matter.

One other possibility is to go to the State of Iowa for the money needed to complete the project in Iowa, with that money being paid back by Federal Funds if they ever become available.  A plan of this type is being seriously discussed in Minnesota.

Another possibility for Sheldon is a connection with the Lyon/Sioux Rural water system.  Wynja told the council that discussions with their system continue, as they are open to talking about all options.

In the meantime, Sheldon continues to depend a great deal on hard water from the deep well for much of its water as there has not been enough rain to recharge the shallow wells.  And the City of Hull is looking for an additional water supply to make it possible for the cheese plant to go ahead with expansion of their facilities.

We’ll have more Sheldon City Council News on KIWA’S Friday news reports.

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8 Responses to “Sheldon Could Abandon Lewis and Clark Water Project”

  1. Hamstrung says:

    It may cost more money but stay the course city council we need water.

  2. Sonny says:

    Guess its been decided ksfy website headline says Sheldon to vote no on new Lewis and Clark funding plan. What’s your backup plan for water Sheldon?

    • Thirsty says:

      Two no votes already on KSFY’s story. I understand the frustration, but in year where a construction crew dug down 17 feet and found no water, how can our city leaders close any options?

  3. Pete says:

    Water rights are going to become the new oil/mineral rights of the future.

  4. biker says:

    Water and citizens of Sheldon spending there money in Sheldon are two things we need as a town!

  5. Doug says:

    I would like to know:
    1. What were the total costs for Sheldon originally estimated to be?

    2. Does the additional 700k together with the 2.5 million put us over that estimate?

    3. If we stay in, and there is no federal funding when the Luverne leg is completed, and Lewis & Clark members proceed next year with another capital call that doesn’t go to Sheldon, do we have the same option to get the 3.2 million back at the time if we’d choose to bow out?

    3. Are the statements made to KSFY less than 24 hours after this story was online, legally binding for the rest of the Sheldon citizens? Seems a bit early to be burning a bridge, with no water.

    • Happily on Rural Water says:

      Call Mr. Mynja tomorrow (Friday) morning and ask him your questions.
      Your other option is to see what Nels Oleson would have done in Walnut Grove.
      I’d suggest calling your local city government.

      • Thirsty says:

        Once witnessed “……..” blow up over being asked about ball field lights. I’d hate to get a tongue lashing for something of real consequences! This site, like it or not, is a very good indicator of public opinion and should be a very good feel for the pulse of the voting public.

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