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Legislature Approves Final Lewis & Clark Payment

March 8, 2010, 5:25 PM by Nick Carbone

Legislature Approves Final Lewis & Clark Payment
SIOUX FALLS, SD - South Dakota lawmakers will make some expensive decisions in the next few days. But one multi-million dollar decision they've already made will help send water to tens of thousands of homes.

It may take more than three decades and $550 million to complete, but South Dakota has approved its final payment for the Lewis and Clark Regional Water Project.

"The $6.3 million is a very welcome award in terms of this project, and it will go to good use," Lewis and Clark Executive Director Troy Larson said.

South Dakota's total contribution adds up to almost $32 million. These latest funds are part of a prepayment plan spread over three years.

“The legislature saw the wisdom of it, and I'm glad we started three years ago because the budget is becoming tighter and tighter each year,” Larson said. 

This latest funding means that Lewis and Clark can expand their initiatives throughout KELOLAND. Larson says they'll use some of the money to build a one-mile long pipeline in Lennox that will bring water to the city's residents.

“We're able to go forward with connecting four of our members, so that's another huge milestone,” Larson said.

Along with Lennox, the latest cash will fund projects for Beresford, the South Lincoln Rural Water System and the Minnehaha Community Rural Water System.

South Dakota's share may be paid in full, but there's still a lot of work to be done. After this year, Lewis and Clark will have to look to elsewhere for funding.

"Beginning with 2011, that's the first year we'll be solely dependent on the federal government for the amount of construction we're able to do," Larson said.

He's hopeful Washington will be just as generous as the local governments.

Larson says they need $35 million each year from the federal government if they want the project to stay on schedule. They hope construction will be finished in 2017.

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