Klobuchar, Franken, Peterson, Walz Call for Strongest Level of Funding for Lewis & Clark Water Project

Sep 16, 2015 Issues: Congressional Issues

WASHINGTON, DC – U.S. Senators Amy Klobuchar and Al Franken, along with Representatives Collin Peterson and Tim Walz, are calling for the strongest level of funding possible for the Lewis and Clark Regional Water System (LCRWS). In a letter to the Senate and House Appropriations Committees, and the Energy and Water Appropriations Subcommittees, the lawmakers pressed for the funding necessary to advance construction on the LCRWS. When completed, the LCRWS will cover a service territory of more than 5,000 square miles and provide drinking water to 300,000 residents and businesses in southwest Minnesota, northwest Iowa, and southeast South Dakota.

“A basic purpose of a rural water system is to improve the quality of life of its customers and expand economic development opportunities,” the lawmakers wrote. “The LCRWS project is an authorized Bureau of Reclamation rural water project that when complete will provide water to 300,000 residents and businesses in southwest Minnesota, northwest Iowa and southeast South Dakota. The federal government has committed more than $229 million, while local project sponsors and the three states have collectively pre-paid 100 percent of the non-federal cost share of $154 million. As you work towards a final agreement on the Fiscal Year 2016 Energy and Water Development Appropriations bill, we write to urge the strongest level of funding possible for the Lewis & Clark Regional Water System (LCRWS) project and the Bureau of Reclamation Rural Water account.”

The full text of the letter is below:

Dear Chairman Cochran, Vice Chairwoman Mikulski, Chairman Alexander, Ranking Member Feinstein, Chairman Rogers, Ranking Member Lowey, Chairman Simpson and Ranking Member Kaptur:

As you work towards a final agreement on the Fiscal Year 2016 Energy and Water Development Appropriations bill, we write to urge the strongest level of funding possible for the Lewis & Clark Regional Water System (LCRWS) project and the Bureau of Reclamation Rural Water account.

The (LCRWS) project is an authorized Bureau of Reclamation rural water project that when complete will provide water to 300,000 residents and businesses in southwest Minnesota, northwest Iowa and southeast South Dakota. LCRWS is currently 65 percent complete and has seen significant investment at the local, state, and federal level, allowing for the construction of intake wells, a water treatment plant, pumping stations, and pipelines that now connect 12 of the 20 member systems. The federal government has committed more than $229 million, while local project sponsors and the three states have collectively pre-paid 100 percent of the non-federal cost share of $154 million. The remaining cost to finish the entire project is just over $200 million.

Our constituents in southwest Minnesota continue to be frustrated by the lack of water. A basic purpose of a rural water system is to improve the quality of life of its customers and expand economic development opportunities. The member communities awaiting connection to LCRWS have shown the ability to attract economic development if sufficient water supply is made available through the project. For example, in Worthington, Minnesota a large pork processing plant needs a reliable water supply before it can expand its operations. This is just one proposal out of many demonstrating the potential for economic growth with proper investment in LCRWS.

Governor Dayton and the Minnesota State Legislature recognize the urgency caused by the lack of federal funding and over the last two years have approved $41 million in state money to advance the project. This investment provided by the State of Minnesota is in addition to its original commitment, which the state has already paid into the project. We believe there needs to be a suitable federal match to this state funding that is at least an equal level of funding in Fiscal Year 2016 for Bureau of Reclamation Rural Water Projects as was provided in Fiscal Year 2015.

We look forward to working with you and your committees until the LCRWS project is complete and federal government has fulfilled its commitment to the Minnesota LCRWS project partners.

Sincerely,