City leaders in Sheldon, Iowa are hoping to convince state lawmakers in Des Moines to float them a $38 million loan.
A little more than three weeks ago, we told you how Minnesota state lawmakers approved $22 million in state funds to resume pipeline construction for the Lewis and Clark Regional Water System.
Sheldon and five other northwest Iowa cities were supposed to have started receiving Lewis and Clark water in 2012 but federal funding dried up and construction ground to a halt.
But if Iowa follows Minnesota's lead, the dry days could be history.
Take a look around Sheldon, Iowa and you wouldn't know anything was wrong. But talk to those responsible for running the city and they'll tell you there is a problem that gets worse by the day.
"We just invested...in the process of investing an additional $500,000 into a new deep well. We're able to get water out of the ground, we're about 600 feet deep with our new deep well. We're pumping water. It will be operating soon. Just the quality is getting worse for our community." Scott Wynja is Sheldon's city administrator and has been searching for some type of water alternative since Lewis and Clark pipeline construction began to falter. He's considered buying water from nearby water systems...he's considered abandoning Lewis and Clark altogether...but he needs water...and Lewis and Clark has it. They just can't get it to him yet. "$38 million will bring the pipeline from the Big Sioux River, the Iowa portion all the way to Sheldon."
So Wynja is now spearheading an effort to convince Iowa lawmakers to do what Minnesota lawmakers have done: give Sheldon state money to finish their section of the project...and when federal money comes available for the project...Sheldon will pay the state back. "The big thing that we're going to them all is were fairly unique: we're coming to you asking for a grant...an advance on federal funding but when the federal dollars come in, we're actually going to pay it back"
In the meantime, the city will depend on it's new half-a-million dollar deep water well as a new source of water. It's hard water and dirty water...but it's the only water Sheldon can get its hands on right now.
Wynja says in a few weeks he plans on personally lobbying Iowa Governor Terry Branstad on this state funding idea, hoping the governor will give it real consideration. But no action could really be taken until January at the earliest...when the Iowa Legislature reconvenes.