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Legislative News and Views - Rep. Joe Schomacker (R)

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Friday, February 6, 2015

ST. PAUL - A reliable water source was once again a topic of discussion at the State Capitol last week, as members of the Lewis and Clark Regional Water System addressed a House/Senate conference committee to update lawmakers on the project’s progress.

State Representative Joe Schomacker (R-Luverne) attended the hearing and said it was a good first step.

“Considering we used bonding dollars to help fund Lewis and Clark last year, it was important to get capital investment committee members up to speed on the project,” Schomacker said. “They now have a better understanding of how far $22 million has gone and will go, and now we need to continue the discussion of supplying much needed water to residents of southwestern Minnesota.”

Lewis and Clark is a multi-state project that taps into an aquifer adjacent to the Missouri River in South Dakota, treats water and then ships it to regions that do not have a reliable water source, such as southwestern Minnesota. The bulk of the project’s costs were to be paid for by the federal government, but to date, it has not held up its end of the bargain as communities wait for their water.

At the end of the 2014 session, Lewis and Clark received $22 million in bonding proceeds in order to construct a pipeline from the Iowa border to Luverne. Work still remains to extend the pipeline finished to Worthington.

At the hearing, committee members learned about and discussed ownership issues, potential price increases, and the missing federal funding.

“Moving forward we need to look at all possibilities on Lewis and Clark and find the appropriate route,” Schomacker said. “Considering we are dealing with a multi-state collaboration, the next step is to agree on a strategy on how we should approach future funding for his project and continuing its positive momentum at the State Capitol.”