Regional water project begins limited operation

Water treatment plant construction
Construction of a new water treatment plant in Vermillion, S.D., which is part of the Lewis and Clark Regional Water System. That system, when completed, will serve rural areas of southwest Minnesota, Iowa and South Dakota.
Photo courtesy of recovery.gov

A much delayed project is now providing water in neighboring states, but it's still unclear whether Minnesota will benefit.

Last month the Lewis and Clark Regional Water System treatment plant near Vermillion, S.D. began pumping water drawn from the Missouri River to parts of eastern South Dakota and northwest Iowa. At least two southwest Minnesota communities, Worthington and Luverne, hope to get water from the system, but it is unknown when that will happen.

"While we're tickled that 11 of the members are receiving water; there's still nine of us out here that have made the same committment, prepaid our local shares, and we're still waiting for the pipe to reach our communities," said Worthington Public Utilities general manager Scott Hain.

"Federal funding level for Lewis and Clark has not kept pace with inflation," Hain said.

Hain said federal funding for the project is slipping. He says at current funding levels the project may never deliver water to Worthington, and that legislation has been introduced in Congress to speed funding but it is not known if it will pass.

A ribbon cutting for a portion of the project is scheduled for today near Vermillion, S.D.

Your support matters.

You make MPR News possible. Individual donations are behind the clarity in coverage from our reporters across the state, stories that connect us, and conversations that provide perspectives. Help ensure MPR remains a resource that brings Minnesotans together.