Dayton going to D.C. to push for money to finish SW Minnesota water line


Yes, the wheels of bureaucracy sometimes turn slowly – or even grind to a halt. But perhaps a well-placed shove can get them back in gear.

That seems to be the hope behind Gov. Mark Dayton's trip to Washington, D.C., where he will urge federal officials to come up with the funding for a water pipeline that was authorized 14 years ago.

The Pioneer Press says Dayton is meeting Wednesday with Interior Secretary Sally Jewel to push for completion of the Lewis & Clark water project that will serve southwestern Minnesota.

The Star Tribune says Sen. Amy Klobuchar is hosting the meeting, which will also include other members of Minnesota's Congressional delegation.

The Lewis & Clark Regional Water System is intended to pipe drinking water from the Missouri River to 20 cities and rural water districts in Minnesota, Iowa, and South Dakota.

President Bill Clinton signed the bill that Congress passed in 2000 authorizing the project but since then the federal government has neglected to provide the money to fund construction.

Minnesota allocated $22 million for the project in this year's legislative session to complete its piece of the funding.

Lewis & Clark's executive director, Troy Larson, told the Marshall Independent last month the state understands how important the project is to the region "... and that message is just not resonating on the federal level. What don't they get about water?"

The Sioux Falls Argus Leader reports the projected cost of the pipeline has now reached $570 million – a figure that has been climbing as the project drags on. The pipeline is now about two-thirds finished and is connected to 11 of its 20 member communities, the Argus Leader says.

The Independent says that in 2010 $194 million from Washington would have finished the federal portion of the project, but inflation had pushed that to $203 million by last year.

The non-controversial nature of the project only adds to the frustration of Lewis & Clark's Larson, who told the Independent:

"The Republicans agree, the Democrats agree, the agencies say it's a high priority. There's no environmental opposition. No one's opposed to it - and they can't get it done. That shows you how dysfunctional D.C. is where everyone agrees and still can't get anything done."

Gov. Dayton will stay in Washington through Thursday. He plans to take part in a roundtable discussion on Minnesota's economy and will be on hand when President Obama pays tribute to the WNBA champion Minnesota Lynx at the White House.

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