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      Governor Dayton Meets with Local Leaders to Discuss Next Steps on Lewis & Clark Water Project

      Posted on July 21, 2014 at 11:37 AM

      A section of the Lewis and Clark Regional Water System being constructed in South Dakota

      A section of the Lewis and Clark Regional Water System being constructed in South Dakota

      Governor Mark Dayton traveled to Luverne last week to meet with local officials and area legislators to discuss next steps in advancing the construction of the Lewis & Clark Regional Water System. Governor Dayton listened, asked questions, and offered his continued support to ensure the project continues on course toward completion. The Governor stressed that the project is essential to maintaining a high quality of life in southwestern Minnesota, and in supporting the continued economic growth of the entire region.

      “This project is critically important to the people and businesses of southwestern Minnesota,” said Governor Dayton. “Without it, business growth would be stifled, new jobs would be lost, and residents would continue being forced to buy bottled water. I will continue doing everything possible to see this project through to completion.

      A shortage of water in communities across southwestern Minnesota is stifling economic growth in the region, and diminishing the quality of life enjoyed by its citizens. Luverne’s isobutanol plant has expressed wishes to expand, but that expansion has been hampered due to a lack of available water in the area. The quality of aquifer water in many communities is so poor that residents have been forced to drink bottled water.

      During the 2014 Legislative Session, Governor Dayton and the Minnesota Legislature provided funding to immediately extend the water pipeline through Luverne to Magnolia. That portion of the project can get underway immediately – providing relief to Minnesota communities from the South Dakota Border to just six miles east of Luverne. Another measure signed into law by the Governor provided local communities the option to borrow additional funds to complete the remainder of the project through the City of Worthington. Under the new law, a portion of those local costs would then be reimbursed by the state.

      To alleviate the need for local communities to commit additional funding to the project, Governor Dayton and Minnesota’s Congressional Delegation are continuing to push the federal government to honor its financial commitment to complete the project. In June, the Governor and the Minnesota’s Congressional Delegation met with U.S. Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell to continue pressing the Administration to complete the project – which was initially planned to be entirely funded by the federal government. In the last several months, the federal Bureau of Reclamation provided $5.15 million more for the project, and President Obama indicated he would propose an additional $2.4 million for Lewis & Clark in the FY2015 federal budget.

      When completed, the Lewis & Clark Regional Water System will provide treated water to 300,000 people in its member municipalities and rural water systems in Iowa, Minnesota, and South Dakota. All-told, 10 counties and more than 40 small towns across southwestern Minnesota stand to benefit from the completion of this project.