The Lewis and Clark Regional Water System will have to wait and see whether a $5 million boost in funding signals an increased flow of federal dollars for future years
The project that will bring water to 300,000 people in South Dakota, Minnesota and Iowa needs at least $35 million a year just to keep on schedule. In these days of shrinking federal budgets, Lewis and Clark officials worry that their project will end up becoming "a pipe to nowhere."
Lewis and Clark Regional Water System is taking a 'glass half-full' view of its $5 million bump in federal funding.
"It's better than having zero and having everything stop," Lewis & Clark Construction Administrator Dan Zulkosky said.
The $5 million is an improvement over the $487,000 Lewis and Clark was originally slated to receive this year. The additional money will be used to buy tools, equipment, vehicles and security fencing. The $5 million will also build 3 miles of new pipe in Lyon County, Iowa. The problem is, without additional funding, that pipe is only going to end up in the middle of a field.
"To only be able to build three miles of pipeline is like building a pipeline to nowhere and I don't want it qualified as that type of project," Zulkosky
Lewis and Clark officials may find out as soon as next week how much funding they'll receive in 2013. But they're not optimistic that it will be an amount that will place the project on anyone's fast track. A completion date that's been pushed back to 2020 at the earliest, might now have to be measured in decades.
"It could go out as far as 2030, 2040, it's all depending on federal funding," Zulkosky said.
Construction on the Lewis and Clark pump station west of Tea is nearing completion. It's expected to begin delivering millions of gallons of water each day to Sioux Falls this spring.