One of the issues Bluestem has followed since our inception is the need to complete the Lewis and Clark Regional Water system. Most local communities along the route have pre-paid for their share of the construction, but national politics have delayed completion in the three states that will share the system.
Even in the best of times, Southwestern Minnesota needs the water, since much of the available water isn't potable. Even when livestock might drink it, it's unhealthy for them.
Today's Worthington Daily Globe reports that the lingering drought has made matters worse. In Drought leaves some rural residents tapped out, Globe ag reporter Julie Buntjer writes:
. . .more than half a dozen rural residents in Nobles County are still on a waiting list to get rural water.
LPRW CEO Dennis Healy said Friday that they’ve had an usually high number of requests from rural residents in recent months to tap into the line, which brings water from Osceola Rural Water into Nobles County.
“There have been a few cases where the wells have basically quit pumping any water,” said Healy, adding that in most instances, the water coming from private wells just isn’t enough to meet the needs of the customer.
“The situation is getting worse rather than better,” he said. “They’re contacting us before they’re totally out of water.”
Rural Bigelow dairy farmer Steve Dykstra had to get an emergency hook-up into LPRW’s system a year ago already, and has relied on the water to supplement three existing wells on the farm.
“I’ve been using it non-stop for a year now,” he said.
With two shallower wells on his property, Dykstra looked into rural water more than a decade ago, but ultimately decided to dig a new well. The well, at 780 feet deep, was to be his backup water source.
The water quality was so poor, however, that it rusted the pump. When it finally was in operation, the dairy cows didn’t really like the water.
“My cows have suffered in production since using that (deep) well,” Dykstra said, adding that since hooking into the LPRW line, his dairy barn has been utilizing the water non-stop.
Harlan Hanson, owner of Hanson’s Well Drilling in Heron Lake, has been in the well business for 52 years. At age 72, he said he can’t recall a time when water shortages have been more prevalent than they are today. . . .
Of the 20 communities in the system, 11 are receiving water, but as KIWA-AM reported in August's Ribbon Cut, Water Flowing — But Federal Funding? Not So Much:
Federal funding is barely a trickle, but the water itself is flowing. However, not everyone is reaping the benefits. . . .
The great majority of the member communities have paid their fair share toward the project, but the federal government has not even come close to fulfilling its promise for funding. Now, due to inflation and interest, the federal government owes the project $200 million.
The 11 members receiving water include; Sioux Falls, Beresford, Centerville, Harrisburg, Lennox, Parker, Tea, Lincoln County RWS, Minnehaha Community Water Corporation, South Lincoln RWS and Rock Rapids. For Minnehaha Community 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 the Minnehaha system and Rock Rapids, the members who are not yet connected include: Madison, South Dakota; Hull, Sheldon, Sibley and Sioux Center, Iowa; Luverne, and Worthington, Minnesota, and the Lincoln Pipestone and Rock County Rural Water systems.
Photo: the operating Lewis and Clark water treatment facility, via KIWA-AM.