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Editorial: Water project hailed as priority

Al Franken said he knew Minnesotans would be skeptical of his Senate candidacy, but said he has worked to convince them he is "deadly serious" about issues important to them.

Several weeks ago, U.S. Sen. Al Franken asked specific questions about federal funding for projects similar to the Lewis & Clark Regional Water System. Communities participating in Lewis & Clark have already paid their share of the project, Franken said, yet additional federal funding was in danger of being halted. Were other water projects seeing these local contributions go for naught?

Franken said the answers he got didn't make much sense, but added that's not -- and never has been -- his primary concern. He told the Daily Globe on Thursday that U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ken Salalzar commented during a U.S. Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources hearing that Lewis & Clark was a primary project of his, and that it should be fully funded.

Franken noted that he is seeking a meeting with the Department of the Interior and the White House's Office of Management and Budget "to press the administration to make sure this is fully funded." The state and local share has been covered, he stressed -- "the federal government should live up to its side of the bargain."

As we've indicated before, Lewis & Clark is critical to future economic development in northwest Iowa and southwest Minnesota. Franken, along with fellow senators Amy Klobuchar, Chuck Grassley and Tom Harkin -- as well as area U.S. representatives -- must continue to "press" to get the money this project needs and deserves.