$6.3 million increase to Lewis & Clark not enough for construction, inflation
The Lewis & Clark Regional Water System says a $6.3 million federal funding increase is not enough to keep up with construction or inflation.
The Bureau of Reclamation recently notified Lewis & Clark Regional Water System that after indexing, the remaining federal cost share for the project increased from $194.3 million last year to $200.6 million this year. Lewis & Clark Regional Water System Executive Director Troy Larson says under this scenario the project would never be completed.
"In the federal government's efforts to save money by gutting funding for Lewis & Clark, the taxpayers are being hit with a double-whammy. The longer it takes to complete the project the more expensive it becomes due to inflation and the longer it takes to realize the project's many economic development benefits," said Larson.
The three states and 20 local members of the Lewis & Clark Regional Water System have pre-paid $153.6 million which is 99.7% of the non-federal cost share. Eleven members begin receiving water later this summer when the treatment plant is operational, but the schedule to connect the remaining nine members is entirely dependent upon federal funding.
Project engineers say they estimate if Lewis & Clark were to receive $10 million each year, the project would not be completed until 2050. Project engineers also say if Lewis & Clark were to receive $35 million each year, the project would be completed in 2021.
"We greatly appreciate the hard work of congressional and administration officials through the years to bring Lewis & Clark to the verge of delivering water, but we strongly urge these officials to re-double their efforts to ensure the project is completed in a timely and cost effective manner," said Larson.
Recent federal funding history:
FY07 $21 million
FY08 $26.5 million
FY09 $27 million
FY09 $59.9 million in stimulus funding
FY10 $10 million
FY11 $2 million
FY12 $5.5 million
FY13 $4.5 million (proposed funding in the Administration's budget)
Total federal funding appropriated to date: $202.3 million