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Madison, SD Still Awaits Lewis & Clark Water

May 4, 2014, 9:55 PM by Perry Groten

Madison, SD Still Awaits Lewis & Clark Water

People in the last South Dakota town still waiting to be connected to the Lewis & Clark Regional Water System are hoping state funding will tide them over until the federal government kicks-in more money for the project. 

Earlier this year, the South Dakota legislature approved $1-million for Lewis & Clark, with the money likely going toward a service line into Madison.  It will take about $27-million to finally get Madison hooked-up. 

People in Madison are grateful for the financial help from the state.

The tables fill up fast during the lunch rush at the 2nd Street Diner.

"It gets pretty busy around here," owner Shari Eliason said.

Water is the financial lifeline for this Madison eatery.

"We use just under 700 gallons a day in this kind of quiet time of year. So in the summer, we'll use more," Eliason said.

Water for the kitchen, water for the customers, even water for the fish in the aquarium.

"It's a 150-gallon tank, but they don't drink much," Eliason said.

Madison businesses know what it's like to go without water. The roof over an underground well collapsed in January.

"We set to boiling gallons and gallons, like 20 gallon tubs at a time, just boiling and boiling water so we could at least have coffee and we could serve breakfast and lunch," Eliason said.

Madison businesses see the Lewis & Clark Regional Water System as a safety valve in helping them avoid future water emergencies.

"It's our most viable resource right now at the restaurant," Eliason said.

A reliable source of water is crucial for economic development. So Madison city leaders are welcoming the help from the state because funding from the feds has been coming in at a trickle.

"We're in this earmark ban that we don't believe is appropriate and so we just want to team with our other partners who have been part of this through the beginning, the states and see if there's anything they can do to make up the difference," Madison City Engineer Chad Comes said.

People in Madison have been waiting more than two-decades to become part of Lewis & Clark. They're hoping patience will eventually pay off, once Washington pays up.

Lewis & Clark would repay the $1-million to the state once additional federal funds come through. 

It will be up to the Lewis & Clark board to decide exactly how the money will be spent.

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