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Editorial: Show Lewis & Clark the money

Once again, the Lewis & Clark Regional Water System will need strong appeals from area legislators in Washington to get a much-needed funding boost for the upcoming fiscal year.

When President Barack Obama released his FY13 budget proposal on Monday, it included $4.5 million for Lewis & Clark. That may seem to be a decent amount of money -- and, in fact, it is, compared to the mere $493,000 that was proposed for the project last year (the final funding was eventually increased to $5.4 million thanks in large part to the efforts of Minnesota, Iowa and South Dakota legislators). But with a remaining federal cost share for the project at $194.3 million, according to a Lewis & Clark news release issued Monday, it seems like work on the long-needed system will continue indefinitely before ever being completed.

"The price tag increases each year by roughly $5 to $7 million a year," Lewis & Clark Chairman Red Arndt said in the release. "While an improvement over last year it still does not even cover inflation, which is a disservice to the taxpayers. This is yet another example of how stupid Congress' earmark ban is that includes authorized projects. Lewis & Clark is not an earmark. We went through a 10-year authorization process."

Arndt also points out that Lewis & Clark would create jobs both through the actual construction as well as expanded development made possible by more water. He's right on all counts. This project is important for our region, and Congress must follow through on its obligation to fund it appropriately.