WORTHINGTON -- Worthington Public Utilities General Manager Scott Hain will meet with representatives of the Lewis & Clark Regional Water System and their lead engineer later this week to talk about the future expansion of the water line toward Worthington.
Lewis & Clark had hoped to get an $11.5 million advance from the state of Minnesota this past legislative session to help fund the final Minnesota phase of the project between Adrian and Worthington. Despite talk of a potential special session to act on a bonding bill and transportation funding, there are still no plans to bring the House and Senate together to act.
“I personally think the chances are pretty slim that there’s going to be a special, but they’ve proven me wrong before,” Hain said. “I have not talked to a rank and file legislator who doesn’t want to have a special session -- who doesn’t want to get something done.”
Failure to call a special session puts Lewis & Clark’s expansion plans in limbo. At this time, the project has $9 million from the Federal Bureau of Reclamation to put toward the $20.5 million project to bring water to Worthington.
“Do we go ahead and use that $9 million to get us part-way or do we bank the $9 million in hopes of getting enough in federal money to do the project next year?” Hain asked.
Another $9 million in 2017 would still leave the project $2.5 million short. If it comes to that, Hain said there will have to talk about possibly fronting the shortfall to keep the project on pace.
“The absence of getting that $11.5 million from Minnesota delays the project a year,” he added, saying Worthington wouldn’t be able to begin using water from Lewis & Clark until the summer of 2019.
In other business, the commission:
Received an update from Hain on electrical service upgrades at Olson Park and Sailboard Beach, and the new service now being installed at Centennial Park. The upgrades at Olson Park are to be able to supply enough power for larger campers to operate air conditioning, television and other electronic devices. The upgrades to Sailboard Beach and Centennial Park are to accommodate needs for the Windsurfing Regatta and Music Festival, as well as the Beach Bash.
Viewed a report on static well levels. Hain noted the wells are in good shape, and that in 28 years of recordkeeping on well levels, there have only been four years in which the static well levels have been higher than they are this year -- in 1993, 1994, 1995 and 2008.
This year’s rise in well levels followed four years of below average water levels -- including two years in which levels were less than 70 percent of the average.
“It’s a good thing this happened (increased rain events) or we’d have real interesting discussions about how we’re going to provide water,” Hain said.