WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Amy Klobuchar and Tina Smith announced that $3 million of the additional funding for the nation’s rural water projects—approved by Congress in December—will go the Lewis and Clark Regional Water System. In total the water system will receive $18 million in federal funding for fiscal year 2020.
The Senators said that this water system serves communities across southwest Minnesota, northwest Iowa, and southeast South Dakota that don’t currently have a reliable source of clean water. Once completed, the Lewis and Clark Regional Water System will cover a service territory of more than 5,000 square miles and provide drinking water to 300,000 residents and businesses.
“The Lewis and Clark water project is necessary to deliver clean, reliable water to businesses and families across Southwestern Minnesota. This increase in funding is great news for Southwest Minnesota’s economy, where the project’s construction will create jobs and ensure access to secure water sources,” Klobuchar said.
“A lot of people who think about Minnesota as the land of 10,000 lakes would never guess that there’s a shortage of water in Southwestern Minnesota,” Smith said. “When finished, the Lewis and Clark Water Project will supply safe and reliable water to over 300,000 people. This increase in funding will help us work toward that goal while also supporting jobs and creating opportunity in the area. What’s more, the federal government should give states the money it pledged for the project. Taxpayers have done their part and have even stepped in to fill the gap that the federal government is supposed to cover. That promise must be kept.”
Klobuchar and Smith have long worked to secure funding for the Lewis and Clark Regional Water System. Following passage of the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2020, Klobuchar and Smith co-lead a letter to Secretary of the Interior David Bernhardt asking that he provide strong federal resources to the Lewis and Clark Regional Water System for the remainder of Fiscal Year 2020. Without proper funding, the project’s construction will likely be delayed—leaving many Minnesotans without access to reliable clean water systems.
Klobuchar and Smith have regularly met with Worthington city officials, local business leaders, and representatives from Lewis & Clark to discuss progress on the Lewis and Clark Regional Water System. They also led a tri-delegation letter to former Department of the Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke advocating for strong funding to ensure that construction continues and communities have access to secure, reliable clean water. In 2018, Klobuchar urged the Secretary of the Interior, the Commissioner of the Bureau of Reclamation, and the Senate Appropriations Committee to support the Lewis and Clark project.
Klobuchar and Smith backed legislation was signed into law in 2018 that increased funding for the Bureau of Reclamation’s Rural Water Program, which provides funding to the Lewis & Clark Regional Water System. They are both also cosponsors of the bipartisan Authorized Rural Water Project Completion Act, which would provide $80 million per year for 15 years, outside of the annual appropriations process, to complete construction of authorized rural water projects. The legislation would use resources from an already established fund in the U.S. Treasury – the bill would have no cost and expenditures would be prohibited if the spending resulted in an increase in the deficit.