SIOUX CENTER, Iowa (KELO) — Randy Feenstra remembered days when his dad would tell people visiting their home not to drink the water.
Feenstra, who is now serving as a Republican Representative for Iowa’s 4th Congressional District, was among a number of speakers praising a milestone in the Lewis and Clark Regional Water System as two northwest Iowa towns started receiving water all the way from the Missouri River near Vermillion.
“We get it. It’s economic vitality. Economic growth. It’s liquid gold,” Feenstra told a crowd representing the communities of Hull, Iowa and Sioux Center, Iowa at the new meter building in Sioux Center.
That meter building has been dedicated to Murray Hulstein, who serves as Sioux Center’s utilities manager and has been involved with the Lewis and Clark project since it started in 1990.
“It’s been a long time coming,” Hulstein told KELOLAND News. “When Sioux Center started, we were actually in a pretty good water situation. We had enough water. The people who were visionary, back then, decided we needed water into the future and they stuck with it.”
Hulstein said there’s an aquifer supplying much of the water in Sioux Center, but also added “there’s a lot of straws sticking in it.”
“You can add another straw, but there’s no more water down there,” Hulstein said. “We really would need to go some distance for water.”
The city of Sioux Center said residents can turn down water softeners down 25 grains of hardness because of the water it is now receiving from Lewis and Clark. Sioux Center started officially receiving water from Lewis and Clark in early April.
The tri-state water system, based near Vermillion, is now providing water to 17 different communities and regional water systems. Three communities – Sibley (Iowa), Sheldon (Iowa) and Madison – are still awaiting connection to the base system.
Sioux Center will receive 600,000 gallons of water a day and Hull will get 400,000. After Lewis and Clark expands, Sioux Center can access a total of 949,000 gallons per day, while Hull can access 633,000 gallons per day.
Sioux Falls receives the largest allotment of water at 28 million gallons a day.