While some free market purists might insist that all services, including water works, ought to be private, most Americans don't object to government involvement in supplying the basics, like security, fire protection and water.
Case in point: the Lewis and Clark Regional Water Project, which has enjoyed broad support from both liberals and conservatives, and the elected officials who represent them, in Southwest Minnesota, Eastern South Dakota and Northwest Iowa.
Geological conditions in that region result in truly nasty groundwater, which at its worst can sicken animals while smelling of rotten eggs.
Few projects will unite uber-conservative Iowa congressman Steve King and Minnesota First District moderate Tim Walz or U.S. Senator Al Franken and Minnesota Rep. Joe Schomacker. This one does.
In Attention Obama: Invest in Lewis & Clark, a column published by the Worthington Globe, Lewis & Clark's Troy Larson implores the President to fund the project:
President Obama will soon be releasing his proposed JOBS package to stimulate the economy, which I understand will include additional investment in critical infrastructure. Whether it is through this proposal or the FY12 budget, on behalf of the estimated 300,000 people in the tri-state region who will benefit from the Lewis & Clark Regional Water System when it is completed I want to take this opportunity to outline for the president why increased funding for Lewis & Clark is a perfect fit.
Lewis & Clark is not “new spending.” It was authorized by Congress and signed into law by President Clinton in July 2000. Based on the federal government’s commitment, the states of South Dakota, Minnesota and Iowa, as well as the 20 member cities and rural water systems, have paid a combined $153.5 million — 99.7 percent of their cost share. By contrast the federal government has paid 51 percent of their cost share and has a remaining balance of $194.3 million.
The remaining cost share is indexed each year for inflation, which lately has been running $5 million to $7 million a year. The longer funding is delayed, the more expensive it becomes for the taxpayers and the longer it takes to realize the positive economic impacts from the water.
The non-federal funds have been spent or obligated toward current construction projects, so the future construction schedule is entirely dependent upon federal funding levels. . .
. . .Not only would these projects create many good paying construction and manufacturing jobs on the front end, but more importantly it would create even more long-term jobs on the back end as the cities and rural water systems use the water to attract and expand businesses and industries. This has already happened in Hull, Iowa, where a cheese factory recently located there because of an “emergency connection” Lewis & Clark has between Sioux Center and Hull. The factory currently employs 127 people and processes 50 truckloads of milk each day from area dairies. They have plans to double production in the next one to two years, which would mean another 30 to 35 jobs. The factory, which has an enormous economic impact on the region, would not be in Hull today if not for the water being provided through the “emergency connection” and the promise of future water from the Missouri River aquifer. . . .
Former President George Bush famously praised the project, then failed to fund it, leaving congressional delegations from the three states to seek earmarks. With the change of administration, the project still lacks support from the White House, which is nearly fatal at this time, when congressional earmarks have been banned.
Fund this--and put construction workers on the job, as well as those whose jobs depend on a stable, useable water supply.