After nearly two decades of planning and construction, water will start flowing Thursday in northwest Iowa through the half-billion-dollar Lewis & Clark Regional Water System. Executive director Troy Larson says it’s been a long time coming.
Larson says the project was first developed in 1989 and, at last, "We’re finally going to be delivering water." The system is a partnership of 15 cities and five rural water districts in Iowa, Minnesota and South Dakota. It will use some 340 miles of underground pipe to move treated water to communities from wells near the Missouri River. Larson says this is the first stage.
A nine-mile stretch of pipe between Sioux Center and Hull will have Lewis & Clark buying water from Sioux Center and reselling it to Hull. Larson says completing this first pipeline is an important milestone for the project, which isn’t expected to be finished until 2019.
He says, "It is significant in terms of just getting the momentum going, that the further we get this project along and closer to completion, that there’ll be this desire in Congress just to finish the project." Larson hopes going operational will help push more funding out of Washington D.C., as the project cost is now estimated at 537-million dollars. The project was "zero-funded" in President Bush’s proposed budget for 2009, meaning the money would be cut off next year, but Larson says they are working to stay on their construction targets. The massive project is set to receive more than 26-million federal dollars this year.