Next month, the Lewis and Clark Regional Water System Board of Directors will vote on a plan to raise nearly $19 million in funds to continue water pipeline construction.
That money would come from the 20 cities already invested in the project.
Nearly half of whom should be receiving water right now from Lewis and Clark...but they aren't because federal funding dried up.
One of those cities is Hull, Iowa.....where the cost of action is rapidly rising tonight.
Combined, the city of Hull and the state of Iowa have paid in $2 million to Lewis and Clark: that was supposed to get them Lewis and Clark water beginning last year. But Hull's section of water pipeline hasn't been built yet. But, Hull is ready to spend another $200,000 to jump start water pipeline construction...to Luverne, Minnesota.
"The short term push to get Luverne water puts the line that would then connect Hull to Lewis and Clark next in line according to the building projects." Aaron Kooiker is the City Administrator for the city of Hull and a member of the Lewis and Clark Board of Directors. Next month, he says he will vote "yes" on a plan to have the cities already invested in Lewis and Clark to raise a combined $18.4 million ....taking the project out of the federal government's hands and putting it in their own. "Yes we're gonna support it but do we really want to? Probably..not necessarily."
Not necessarily because Hull has already paid in all the money it was supposed to: the Feds were supposed to pick up the rest but haven't and as a result...the Lewis and Clark project is at a literal standstill. The only sure way water pipeline construction will start again...is if the Feds are taken out of the equation. "Were spending more money we shouldn't have to spend."
But Hull's money problems get worse. To get the water they need for residential and commercial expansion, they will have to buy it from one of two near-by rural water systems. To buy that water and get supply lines in place will cost Hull $4.5 million. I asked Aaron Kooiker, how will Hull come up with that much money? "Double our water costs. That's the only way to pay for it. We don't have money in the bank per se."
Brian Allen: "Because you didn't think you'd need to."
Aaron Kooiker: We thought Lewis & Clark would be here."
Tonight we have also learned that representatives from Hull, Rock Rapids and Sheldon...all cities that should be connected to Lewis and Clark but aren't....will meet next week with Iowa Governor Terry Branstad to discuss any possible state funds that could be used to help complete Lewis and Clark water pipeline construction across northwest Iowa.
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