Sioux Falls, S.D. (KELO AM) – A document signed by President Bill Clinton committing federal backing serves as a reminder and gives some hope to the completion of the Lewis & Clark water pipeline. With federal cutbacks and the federal earmark ban on approved projects, getting the funding to complete this project becomes a monumental task.
“It seems we have gone now from cutting to gutting,” said Troy Larson, Executive Director of the Lewis & Clark Pipeline. “As of Sept. 2012, the federal government owes 201.3-million dollars which is up from 194.3-million dollars two years ago. It’s only going up, and we are on a path to infinity and under the current funding, this project will never be completed.”
Larson said when money becomes tight you prioritize, and what is more important to drinking water? This isn’t a ball park or a museum, it’s drinking water, it’s economic development and it will eventually pay for itself. This project has no opposition, there is strong support across state lines and party lines; we need to find a way to get it done.
“We aren’t oblivious to federal cutting of funds,” said Larson, “In 2009, we were getting 27-million dollars, and now we are getting 3.2-million dollars for 2014. It’s unfortunate, because at this rate, we are never going to get this project done.”
Larson said that of the 20 communities, who bought into the Lewis & Clark Pipeline, 11 are being served and 9 are still waiting. It is a shame, when these communities and states pre-paid their share of the money which adds up to 154-million dollars up to a decade ago and are still waiting for their water. We need to keep pressure on the federal government to honor their commitment and pay their fair share of the project.
“There isn’t much congress can do, because the earmark ban that includes authorized projects now gives the federal government authority to fund what they want which hurts projects like Lewis & Clark,” said Larson. “I ask people to contact their representatives and first of all thank them for their past support and ask them what is being done to support this project. We also need them to amend the earmark ban to not include authorized projects.”
Larson said that the project hasn’t moved in almost two years and if the level of funding doesn’t get to where it needs to be, we will never get those pipes in the ground.
Troy Larson was interviewed on the Greg Belfrage Show July 15, 2013.