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Funding for water pipeline still top priority

WORTHINGTON -- U.S. Rep. Tim Walz will host a roundtable meeting in Jackson on Wednesday to speak with area opinion leaders about how he can help to "enhance the quality of life for southern Minnesotans."...

WORTHINGTON - U.S. Rep. Tim Walz will host a roundtable meeting in Jackson on Wednesday to speak with area opinion leaders about how he can help to “enhance the quality of life for southern Minnesotans.”

 

Water & Light Commission President Gary Hoffmann will be one of the attendees, so he enlisted the help of his commission members to figure out what to speak about with Walz.

 

“The federal obligation for Lewis & Clark, I imagine that has to be a discussion,” said Commissioner Lyle Ten Haken. “Quite honestly, that bell has rung how many times, and has there been any real meaningful change?”

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The three Lewis & Clark Regional Water System states - Iowa, South Dakota and Minnesota - have collectively pre-paid all of the non-federal cost share of $154 million. However, the federal government has failed to pay its obligation since budget cuts came through in 2010.

 

The water pipeline connection to Worthington still isn’t complete, and significant portions of the South Dakota and Iowa sections of the pipeline have not yet been constructed.

Worthington Public Utilities General Manager Scott Hain said President Donald Trump’s $1 trillion infrastructure plan could include money toward the water system, as it is meant to go toward “shovel ready projects” - infrastructure projects that have engineering and easements done, but lack funding.  

 

Trump recently said his new infrastructure plan is "largely completed" and could be filed in the next two or three weeks.

State funding for the pipeline was included in the 2016 bonding bill, which failed to pass. This year, a standalone bill to pay for a majority of the estimated $19 million required to finish the pipeline currently sits in the Capital Investment committee. The rest of the needed money is included in the House omnibus jobs bill.

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If funding is provided soon, the pipeline extension could be done by November 2018.

 

Other topics to potentially discuss include health insurance, renewable energy tax credits, immigration and oversight of regulations from the United States Environmental Protection Agency and Minnesota Pollution Control Agency.

 

Walz announced March 27 that he plans to run for governor of Minnesota.

 

In other news, the commission recommended the Worthington City Council award a bid for sewer and water reconstruction on Elmwood Avenue to contractor Duininck Inc.

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Duininck was the lowest of five bidders at $380,548.25, significantly below the engineer’s estimate of $467,168.60.

 

The commission also recommended council award bids to Duininck for concrete restoration and sanitary sewer concrete restoration for a total of $116,908.

 

Commissioner Aaron Hagen was appointed to the Nobles Economic Opportunity Network, and Commissioner Deb Weg was appointed to the WREDC board.

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