Multi-state pipeline nears endpoint in Minnesota

Published 8:00 pm Sunday, April 29, 2018

WORTHINGTON — A pipeline project decades in the making that will provide water to more than 300,000 customers in South Dakota, Iowa and Minnesota is nearing completion.

Work on the Lewis and Clark pipeline is nearing its end point in Worthington. The pipe should be connected to the city next fall, officials said.

The city currently draws most of its water from a well field. The well’s water level can drop steeply during dry period, causing the city to implement water restrictions during times of drought.

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“The way we see it is Lewis and Clark offers us that safety blanket where we’re going to be able to ride out that next drought period,” said Scott Hain, Worthington Public Utilities general manager.

The city of 13,000 will be able to use about 2 million gallons of water a day from the pipeline, which will meet about two-thirds of the city’s daily need.

The project takes water from near the Missouri River in South Dakota. The stalled pipeline has caused problems for communities and rural water supply systems for years as the region struggled with on-and-off drought and had to stretch existing water supplies.

“It took us a lot longer to get authorized and it’s taken us a lot longer to get constructed than what we ever thought would be,” said Red Arndt of Luverne, a member of the Lewis and Clark board.

Work on the line halted in 2013 because of a lack of funding. The federal government agreed to pay 80 percent of the project’s cost almost 20 years ago. The money has been doled out slowly, which has slowed the pace of construction.

Several towns in Iowa and South Dakota are also waiting to be connected to the pipeline.