Sen. Al Franken pushes for progress on Lewis & Clark - KSFY News - Sioux Falls, SD News, Weather, Sports

Sen. Al Franken pushes for progress on Lewis & Clark

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The Lewis and Clark Regional Water Project is at a standstill, leaving communities in southwest Minnesota, southeast South Dakota and northeast Iowa in limbo.

Many say the federal government is to blame.

Sen. Al Franken of Minnesota met with local officials Saturday about the challenges they are facing.

Sen. Franken says he's frustrated the federal government. hasn't held up its end of the deal.

"I care about this one because the people of Minnesota deserve this. We've just heard stories about people who were asked to pay money and did pay money to get hooked up and now the water system has to go to them and ask for more," said Sen. Franken.

When the Lewis and Clark Regional Project was authorized, states and municipalities had certain funding they were required to give. And they did -- like they were supposed to.

But the federal government has yet to fulfill its obligations to pay its share.

"We've prepaid our share. The state's prepaid their share and we'd just like to see more federal support to get our share of the project done," said Patrick Baustin, mayor of Luverne.

Baustin says for the past two years, his city has had a complete ban on watering in the summertime. Luverne's supply is holding now, but it won't last forever.

"The city of Luverne being in a drought condition; we're about 15 inches shy of water from last year. Our well field is depleting and with the lack of a federal government's assistance in helping complete this project, the citizens of Luverne are being short-changed. Next spring if we don't get spring showers, our wells are currently on the dry side, so we're going to be going into a drought," said Baustin.

If Luverne's well runs dry, the city will be forced to shell out more money for alternative resources.

"We're planning on $2 million of more infrastructure improvements that we would not have had to do," said Baustin.

Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton is now calling for $20 million in additional state spending for the Lewis and Clark Project.


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