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Senator Al Franken (D. MN) is taking action on the lack of federal funding for the Lewis & Clark Water Project:

He's co-sponsoring a water project bill he hopes gets through the Senate.

“I bring it up whenever I can. I've been fighting for this project. In Minnesota, we haven't seen a drop of water from it and it's not fair to the local communities that have paid their fair share or the state of Minnesota," Franken said.

Franken says if lack of funding continues, it'll be about 40 years until the project is finished. - Keoland, 4/18/13

Here's a little background info on the Lewis & Clark Water Project:

Lewis & Clark will provide treated water to its member municipalities and rural water systems. When completed, the System will provide safe, reliable drinking water through its members to over 300,000 people in South Dakota, Iowa, and Minnesota. Lewis & Clark's member systems will use this new source of water to either replace or supplement existing sources of supply.

Through careful engineering analysis, the Missouri River was determined to be the most viable source of water for Lewis & Clark. Utilizing a series of wells to tap into an aquifer adjacent to the Missouri River near Vermillion, SD, the System will distribute treated water through 337 miles of pipeline to members in a roughly 5,000 square mile area, which is the size of Connecticut. In addition to a traditional lime treatment facility, the non-looped System will also include a series of pump stations and reservoirs. The water treatment plant will be located three miles north of Vermillion.

Depending on federal funding levels, construction is estimated to be completed around 2019. The maximum capacity from the completed system will be 45 million gallons per day (MGD). The maximum capacity represents less than 3/10th of 1% of the average daily flow of the Missouri River. For more information on the technical aspects of the project, see the Final Engineer Report under the Technical Information link.
Lewis & Clark will improve the quality of life for area residents by addressing water quality, supply and infrastructure problems. In addition, it will stimulate the regional economy for years to come. Besides the obvious long-term growth potential to its members, Lewis & Clark will have a positive impact on the local and regional economies during construction.

Based on the federal component of project expenditures, it's estimated that the economic impact to the region from construction of the project will total $374 million, which includes the creation of 3,730 construction related jobs over the lifetime of the project.
These jobs will mean a direct labor income of $10.2 million annually to a region with an annual median income of $37,814. Tax revenues generated from construction are expected to be $15.9 million. The direct, indirect and induced impact of the operation and maintenance of the facilities after construction is estimated to be over $7 million annually for the region, creating 74 permanent positions. For more information on the economic impact to the region, see the Economic Impact Study under Technical Information link. -

Senator Franken joins his colleagues in neighboring states in co-sponsoring legislation to increase funding for the Lewis and Clark Water Project:

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." - KDLT News, 4/17/13

Senator Tim Johnson (D. SD) of South Dakota is also a co-sponsor as well as Senators from New Mexico, iowa and North Dakota.  The board chairman of the Lewis and Clark Regional Water System, Red Arndt, says the amount of money in President Obama's budget towards the Lewis and Clark Water Project "leaves us completely dead in the water."  Only $3.2 million goes towards the project:

The Lewis & Clark Rural Water System can't make progress with a $3.2 million allocation.

The water system is solely reliant on federal funding to complete the remaining 35 percent of the project, which will eventually include connectivity to Madison. But Lewis & Clark Executive Director Troy Larson said the latest allocation in the 2014 federal budget doesn't allow for any sort of construction to move forward.

At the present rate of funding, the project is "on a path to infinity," he said.

More than $200 million in federal funding is needed to complete the Lewis & Clark project. That amount is adjusted for inflation, growing at a rate of about $8 million each year.

"Funding is not even close to covering inflation," Larson said. "The members want to know what year they're going to get to us. We can't tell them what decade, let alone what year."

Lewis & Clark is one of six rural water projects that is funded through the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation. The 2014 budget has $40 million set aside for rural water projects, with $28.41 million allocated for the water project construction and $12 million for operation and maintenance of the Mni Wiconi water system. - Madison Daily Leader, 4/16/13

Though Franken was successful in securing addition funding last month, he is working on securing more funding for the water project.  If you'd like to get more information, please contact Senators Franken or Johnson for more details and how you can take action:

Franken: 202-224-5641

Johnson: 202-224-5842

And if you would like to donate to Franken's 2014 re-election campaign, you can do so here:

Originally posted to pdc on Thu Apr 18, 2013 at 03:41 PM PDT.

Also republished by Climate Hawks, South Dakota Kos, The Democratic Wing of the Democratic Party, and In Support of Labor and Unions.

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