U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar today led a meeting with Governor Mark Dayton, Senator Al Franken, Representatives Collin Peterson and Tim Walz, and Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell to continue pressing the Administration to complete the Lewis and Clark Regional Water System (LCRWS). During the meeting, the lawmakers and Governor Dayton highlighted the need for the Administration to make good on its commitment and provide the funding necessary to connect Minnesota communities in need of water. Minnesota recently approved $22 million in state money to complete the first phase of the project, but additional funds are still needed to see the project through.
"The Lewis and Clark water project is critical to the economic development and well-being of southwest Minnesota," Klobuchar said. "I organized today's meeting with Secretary Jewell to highlight the impact this delay is having on Minnesota communities and why it's so important for the Administration to provide the funds the project needs for completion. It was a productive conversation and I thank Secretary Jewell for meeting with us and look forward to working with her to get this done."
"The Lewis and Clark water project is critically important to jobs and economic development in communities across southwestern Minnesota," Franken said. "I thank Interior Secretary Sally Jewell for updating us on the project. The urgency to complete the Lewis and Clark water project grows every day, and I look forward to working with Secretary Jewell, the State of Minnesota, and Congress to finally get this project completed and get the water flowing to southwest Minnesota."
"We had a productive meeting with Secretary Jewell," Governor Mark Dayton said. "Minnesota Senators Klobuchar and Franken, and Congressmen Walz and Peterson are working very hard to obtain continued funding, and I will do the same in Minnesota."
"Delivering an abundant supply of water to our communities is a basic necessity for every community, not only to survive, but to grow and prosper," Walz said. "We must all continue working together, Democrat and Republican, to push the Administration to uphold their end of the bargain and get this project done."
"This water project is critical to so many communities in southwest Minnesota," Peterson said. "These federal delays are frustrating and need to be addressed, and I will continue to work with my colleagues and the department to fulfill the federal commitment to finish this project."
Klobuchar and the Minnesota delegation have worked tirelessly to secure funding for the Lewis and Clark Regional Water System. In 2012, Klobuchar brought Bureau of Reclamation Commissioner Michael Connor to Worthington, MN to meet with local officials to discuss the negative impacts that the lack of federal funding to complete LCRWS is having on communities in the region and push for more funding from the Administration. Klobuchar and Franken and Representatives Peterson and Walz have also previously called on the Bureau of Reclamation to give more weight to economic impact when prioritizing funding for water projects like the Lewis and Clark Regional Water System, and they are co-authors of the Authorized Rural Water Project Completion Act, which 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.
When completed, the Lewis & Clark Regional Water System will provide treated water to 300,000 people in its member municipalities and rural water systems in Iowa, Minnesota, and South Dakota.