SHELDON, Iowa (KCAU) — Sheldon, Hull, and Sibley are a part of the Lewis and Clark Regional Water System but the communities haven’t seen the benefits yet. However, officials have said they can see the light at the end of the tunnel.

Executive director of the Lewis and Clark Regional Water System Troy Larson said there have been times over the years where they couldn’t continue constructing the water pipeline because of a lack of funding, but with more than $80 million in total investment expected from the federal government to build meter buildings, water towers, and of course, pipeline, Larson said this could be a record-setting year for the project’s construction and explained why legislators are starting to see water infrastructure as a higher priority.

“The drought the last couple of years has emphasized to everyone the importance of having a reliable source of water, and the members who have Lewis and Clark and are connected, are incredibly thankful but we have five members who are not connected and they need it very badly,” said Larson.

Sheldon’s public works director Todd Uhl, who’s served on L&C’s board of directors for 22 years, explained what connecting to the Missouri River-based water will do for the community.

“It’ll allow us to be aggressive with continued growth and it’ll allow us to give our existing customers a better product than we are today,” said Uhl.

According to KCAU 9 chief meteorologist Scott Larsen, Sioux City is below average on precipitation by more than five inches over the last four months, showing a dangerously dry trend that Uhl said makes the Lewis and Clark pipeline even more valuable.

“Our ability to feel confident in times of drought, that we’ll able to meet the needs of our customers and right now that becomes a real concern,” said Uhl.

Groundbreaking on a Lewis and Clark water tower site west of Sheldon is expected later this spring, and Larson said contractor bidding for other projects around northwest Iowa will begin in the coming weeks.