Federal funding helps Lewis and Clark continue water project construction
BERESFORD, S.D. (Dakota News Now) - When washing your hands, the dishes, or even having a glass of water with dinner do you ever wonder where that water comes from? For 20 communities in the tri-state area, it comes from the Lewis and Clark Regional Water System.
Lewis and Clark is a 30-year project to deliver quality water across the region that is still in the works, and a federal funding boost is on its way to help.
The Lewis and Clark Regional Water Project began in 1990, with the goal to efficiently provide water for communities around the region, including Beresford.
“Before we got hooked up in 2012, we kind of put band-aids on our water treatment facility, now that’s completely shut down and Lewis and Clark is our sole source,” said Tom Erickson who is on the Lewis and Clark Board of Directors and is a Beresford resident.
Lewis and Clark is the only water source for over 5 communities and provides 55% of the water in Sioux Falls. For Beresford, getting connected when they did was critical.
“It’s very essential for us to have gotten that project started at the time it did. It came right at the right time in 2012, the band-aids were starting to come off,” Erickson said.
Of the 20 communities Lewis and Clark serves, 15 currently have access to their water. The water system says they’re working to connect the last 5 to their source, and the $17.5 million granted to them by the federal government will help them get there.
“For so long funding has lagged, 80% of the funding comes from the federal government the rest from the states and the local members. You have over 300,00 people in the tri-state region from our 20 members that will benefit from this project,” Lewis and Clark Executive Director Troy Larson said.
Larson says the project will cost over $600 million in total, with those communities covering roughly $150 million.
The new $17.5 million will help connect water from Beresford to Iowa, where four communities have yet to be connected. The construction will include the largest 2.5-million-gallon water tower in the nation.
“There’s light at the end of the tunnel because for many years we couldn’t even tell members what decade they may get water in, now we have a pretty good idea of when the remaining members will get connected,” said Larson.
Larson says they are hoping to have water reach all of their members within the next 5-6 years, and finish the entire project in the next 10 years.
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