The Lewis & Clark Regional Water System is enjoying a busy construction season, but this year's work will not include a final pipeline to Madison.

Lewis & Clark is a multi-community, multi-state project that brings high-quality treated water to South Dakota, Iowa and Minnesota. The organization began discussions in 1990 and communities -- including Madison -- made their long-term commitments in 1993.

The system is now 82 percent complete. This year's most notable construction project is extending 33 miles of pipe from Beresford, So. Dak. to Sioux Center, Iowa. There is also a 16 million gallon collector well near the treatment plant at Vermillion and a water tower in Union county. At 220 feet tall, the water tower will be the tallest 2.5-million gallon water tower in the United States.

Madison, at the north end of the project, is "partially" connected, having an agreement that pushes Lewis & Clark water into rural water systems, which then feed Madison. The water itself comes from the Big Sioux Water system, which is better quality water than the what Madison was pumping out of its wells.

Eventually, there will be a direct pipeline from the treatment plant to Madison. Lewis & Clark is obtaining the easements for that pipe now, although there are other connections still ahead of our community.

So when will the project be complete? Lewis & Clark Executive Director Troy Larson told the Daily Leader Monday morning that if this year's federal appropriation of $18 million were to continue for ten more years, the project would be complete and all advances from the states would be repaid.

We're glad to see strong annual construction progress. Each completed segment means we're that much closer to getting Madison hooked up directly.

-- Jon M. Hunter