Tea, South Dakota — It’s been a long time in coming — and it’s certainly not complete — but the Lewis & Clark Regional Water System reached a historic milestone Monday morning when it began producing water from its treatment plant near Vermillion for distribution to 11 of its 20 member cities and rural water systems. The system is to provide Missouri River aquifer water to it’s members. The project was incorporated in January 1990, so this milestone has been over 22 years in the making.
Chairman of the Board Red Arndt says that with the area unfortunately experiencing critical water needs in the face of a crushing drought, they are pleased that Lewis & Clark is able to begin producing water just in the nick of time.
Arndt says they will save the toasts and thank yous for the upcoming treatment plant ribbon cutting ceremony, but July 30 is truly a historic day for Lewis & Clark.
The 11 members receiving water include; Sioux Falls, Beresford, Centerville, Harrisburg, Lennox, Parker, Tea, Lincoln County RWS, Minnehaha Community Water Corporation (MCWC), South Lincoln RWS and Rock Rapids. For MCWC and Rock Rapids, service is only to one of their two connections. The Rock Rapids connection is the one worked out with Lyon and Sioux Rural water to serve the Grand Falls Casino. The Rock Rapids water supply will not actually see any Lewis and Clark water until the pipeline gets to Rock Rapids.
In addition to the second connections for MCWC and Rock Rapids, the members who will not be connected include: SD – Madison; IA – Hull, Sheldon, Sibley and Sioux Center; MN – Luverne, Worthington, Lincoln Pipestone RWS and Rock County RWD.
In the meantime, Arndt says he and Executive Director Troy Larson are to speak in Washington DC to see if they can persuade Congress to allocate more money — their fair share — for the completion of Lewis and Clark.
He says if it passes, Lewis and Clark would get a share of that $80 million.
A ribbon cutting ceremony for the treatment plant is scheduled for 10:00 a.m. on Tuesday, August 21, which is the nine year anniversary of Lewis & Clark’s groundbreaking.