The Free Press, Mankato, MN

State, national news

December 2, 2013

Is Lewis & Clark project a pipeline to nowhere?

Water dries up as does federal funding for southwest Minnesota

The Lewis & Clark Regional Water System was supposed to supply millions of gallons of badly needed water to southwest Minnesota. Instead, it's Minnesota’s pipeline to nowhere.

More than 100 miles of pipe have been laid in South Dakota and Iowa. But not a drop of water has crossed into Minnesota.

The stalled project is causing problems for communities and rural water supply systems that trusted Lewis & Clark water would be flowing from household faucets by now. More than two years of on-and-off drought have stretched existing water supplies and led to watering bans and other restrictions.

The line "kind of just ends in the middle of nowhere, in the middle of that field," said Red Arndt as he walked farmland recently on the Minnesota-Iowa border. Arndt lives in southwest Minnesota and has been involved with planning and building the project for more than 20 years. He currently chairs the Lewis & Clark board.

The pipeline extends a little into Minnesota, but only by about 400 feet, said Arndt, as he stood near steel pipes sticking out of a slab of concrete, the junction where water is supposed to be directed from northwest Iowa into Minnesota.

It ends in this useless location because there's no money to lay more. Construction stopped after Congress failed to deliver promised funding.

Lewis & Clark is supplying water to some South Dakota and Iowa communities. It draws water from the Missouri River in South Dakota, treats it and then pipes the water north and east. It still gets a little federal money, but only enough to maintain what's already operating. Arndt said he's not optimistic Congress will send more funds anytime soon.

Local officials say that's a threat to the region’s economic development.

Luverne has spent about $400,000 developing water supplies to make up for the Lewis & Clark shortfall. If the project lies dormant into next summer, the city will spend another $1 million, mainly to dig new wells and process the water, said city administrator John Call.

Text Only | Photo Reprints
State, national news
  • Thousands without power due to storms MCGREGOR (AP) — Thousands of Minnesotans are without electricity after powerful storms moved through central and northeastern Minnesota. Strong winds of 50 to 70 mph knocked down trees and power lines overnight Monday. Minnesota Power and Lake Count

    July 22, 2014

  • Ellison urges Minn. to aid Central American minors ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — A Minnesota congressman is leading efforts to bring more unaccompanied children fleeing Central America to the state. But, immigration advocates and nonprofit groups that serve refugees are concerned Minnesota might not be abl

    July 22, 2014

  • Detroit retirees back pension cuts by a landslide DETROIT (AP) — A year after filing for bankruptcy, Detroit is building momentum to get out, especially after workers and retirees voted in favor of major pension changes just a few weeks before a judge holds a crucial trial that could end the largest

    July 22, 2014

  • Closings set in Ventura's suit over sniper's book ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — Closing arguments are set in former Minnesota Gov. Jesse Ventura's defamation lawsuit against the estate of "American Sniper" author Chris Kyle. The case is expected to go to the federal jury in St. Paul after lawyers for both

    July 22, 2014

  • American Jews, other 'lone soldiers' serve Israel The two Americans killed in fighting in the Gaza Strip followed in the footsteps of scores of Jews from around the world who have volunteered to fight for Israel. Israel calls them the lone soldiers: They are men and women in the prime of their live

    July 22, 2014

  • 9 TC Rainbow stores to close Supermarkets to lose in Cottage Grove, Shoreview, Inver Grove Heights, Apple Valley, Blaine, Bloomington, Coon Rapids, Maple Grove and Savage

    July 21, 2014

  • Accelerants fuel fire; 2 rescued ST. PAUL — Two brothers were rescued from the upper floor of a St. Paul duplex in a fire that was fueled by cylinders of gas, oxygen and other accelerants. Authorities say the two were taken to Regions Hospital where one man is in critical condition

    July 21, 2014

  • Monticello doctor dies in cycle crash Patients among those mourning Dr. Eric Lefebvre's death

    July 21, 2014

  • Precautions urged for excessive heat, humidity MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Health officials are urging Minnesotans to take precautions in dealing with high temperatures and humidity. The National Weather Service says the humidity will make temperatures feel like 100 to 110 degrees Monday across much of M

    July 21, 2014

  • NASA names building for moonwalker Neil Armstrong NASA honored one of its most famous astronauts Monday by renaming a historic building at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. It now bears the name of Neil Armstrong, the first man to walk on the moon when the Apollo 11 mission landed there 45 years

    July 21, 2014