Supporters seek more 2013 funding for Lewis & Clark
By CHUCK CLEMENT, Staff Reporter
Sen. Tim Johnson, D-S.D., promised his continuing support for rural water projects last week in Pierre as supporters of the Lewis & Clark Regional Water System remain unsure about the total amount of 2013 funding for the water pipeline project.|
According to Troy Larson, LCRWS executive director, the pipeline that would transport water from the Missouri River to about 300,000 persons in South Dakota, Iowa and Minnesota currently has only $4.5 million provided in federal funding for 2013. Larson said that the water pipeline project might receive another $2 million to $3 million from the federal government if the Senate Energy and Water Appropriation bill passed through Congress intact.
Larson said it was questionable that the U.S. House would agree to Senate's proposal for rural water project funding.
Johnson has also supported the Authorized Rural Water Projects Completion Act, a bill that would create the Reclamation Rural Water Construction Fund. The fund would receive $80 million annually from 2014 through 2029 that would already be budgeted to the Bureau of Reclamation. The annual funding would remain available without any further appropriation for the construction of rural water projects.
"That bill would provide the recognition that the federal government has a responsibility to complete these water projects," Larson said.
Johnson said clean drinking water is indispensable to the quality of life in South Dakota during the annual meeting held last week for the S.D. Association of Rural Water Systems. He said that in the short term, construction of drinking water infrastructure would create jobs.
"And over the long term, these water projects facilitate economic growth, allowing new businesses and residents the basic services they need to locate and thrive in South Dakota," Johnson said.
According to Larson, construction on the Lewis & Clark water pipeline will come almost to a standstill during 2013. He said a construction crew should complete in February the installation of 6 miles of 30-inch PVC pipeline to Rock Rapids, Iowa. That installation should provide a second connection to Rock Rapids.
The only other construction planned for 2013 is building a small meter house that will help the water pipeline serve Rock Rapids. Larson estimated the cost for constructing the meter house would amount to about $300,000.
"Right now, we don't plan to put any pipe into the ground in 2013," Larson said.
Larson said the project would only become more expensive due to inflation if adequate construction funding from the federal government is not provided. The state and communities involved with the water pipeline project have already contributed their funding shares for its construction.
According to Larson, the remaining federal funding in 2012 for LCRWS had amounted to $194 million. Due to inflation, the remaining federal share of the funding had grown to $200 million due to inflation.