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Lewis and Clark included in bonding plan

By Janet Kubat Willette

jkubat@agrinews.com

ST. PAUL -- More than 200,000 people in Minnesota, Iowa and South Dakota will benefit from a $4.5 million state investment in the Lewis and Clark Rural Water System.

The state has been asked to contribute $2 million during this bonding cycle and the money is included in Gov. Tim Pawlenty's bonding proposal.

The Lewis and Clark Rural Water System is a wholesale provider of water to its members, said Troy Larson, system executive director. Members are cities or rural water systems.

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Minnesota members are Lincoln-Pipestone Rural Water, Rock County Rural Water and the cities of Luverne and Worthington.

The Lewis and Clark project takes water from the Missouri River by Vermillion, S.D., and distributes it to members through 337 miles of pipe in a 5,000 square mile area.

The entire project cost is $386 million, Larson said. The federal government is picking up 80 percent of the cost, with matching funds come the three states and Lewis and Clark members. Members and the state are each responsible for 10 percent of the project cost.

Lewis and Clark is being built for two main reasons, Larson said. No. 1, many members lack adequate, high-quality water supplies, and second, as an economic development tool.

Worthington, for example, has had to turn away value-added agriculture industries because it lacks the water necessary for the industries to function, he said.

Pipeline installation for the system began in June, and the first two segments of pipeline are completed, Larson said. A contract for a third segment, consisting of 54-inch diameter pipe, has been awarded and work will commence as soon as weather allows. A contract for a fourth segment will be awarded later this month.

Construction is expected to begin in Minnesota in four years to five years, Larson said. The entire project is estimated to be finished between 2014 and 2016.

Larson said the state of Minnesota will more than recoup its investment in the project through tax revenues generated during the construction phase and in the long-term through economic development spurred by the rural water system.

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