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Southwestern MN communities weigh spending to finish 'pipeline to nowhere'

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A long-delayed project designed to bring Missouri River water to southwestern Minnesota is at a crossroads.

As MPR reports, the Lewis & Clark water project has been hamstrung by cutbacks in federal funding. This week the 20 local entities in three states that comprise the project's board will vote on whether to fund the completion themselves with hopes of eventually getting reimbursed by the feds.

The 20 cities and rural water districts are in Minnesota, South Dakota, and Iowa. After more than a decade, MPR says the project is delivering water to 11 of the 20. But Minnesota's two cities (Worthington and Luverne) and three counties (Lincoln, Pipestone, and Rock) are not among them.

KELO-TV recently found divergent opinions on the question of whether to finish the project with local dollars. Luverne's city administrator said that city wants to keep the project moving, but the Rock County Rural Water District decided to draw a line against any additional spending.

KTIV-TV visited Hull, Iowa, which has a particular frustration about the project dragging on for more than a decade. A cheese plant in that city is poised for a major expansion but can't unless the water supply is increased, the station reports.

The Lewis & Clark board is scheduled to vote at a Thursday meeting.

Here's an overview of the plan from the project's website.

And, from the Minnesota Health Department's archive, a 1996 article laying out the need for improving the water supply in that region and explaining how Lewis & Clark planned to do it.

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