Mni Wiconi Missouri River water pipeline opened to Philip area by way of WR/L-J

400 gallons per minute ... Former mayor Mike West opens the valve that now brings treated Missouri River water to the City of Philip. For several more months, the water in the 948,000 gallon tank will be 80/20 Missouri water and water from the current Creighton and Quinn wells.

The pipeline connecting the Mni Wiconi water project to the City of Philip was officially opened during a special ceremony at the Philip water tank on Wednesday, February 20th.

Treated Missouri River water is now being pumped to the water storage tank just north of Philip. At 2:00 p.m. the pipeline was opened and it began bringing in 300 gallons per minute. Within a half of an hour that pressure had edged up to 350 gpm. For the next few months, it will hover around 400 gpm.

When that 948,000 gallon tank was completed in 1995, a very conservative estimate on water consumption was that it could supply the Philip area for only three days, noted Tom Lesselyoung, Philip Public Works Director.

Former Philip mayor Nancy Ekstrum had written, "When you turn the tap on and there is water, that is a good day. When you turn on the tap and there is good water, that is a great day."

Mayor John Hart remembered when South Dakota's United States Legislators Tom Daschle and Tim Johnson first appropriated the Creighton well system to replace Lake Waggoner water. Later, another well near Creighton and yet another well just south of Highway 14 from Quinn were drilled.

Former Philip mayor Mike West was in office when water from the Mni Wiconi project was first proposed. On Wednesday, just before he opened the valve, West said, "This day of freezing temperatures and bitter wind chills is an appropriate day to hold this ceremony. There were some doubters years ago who had said, "It will be a cold day in H--- when Philip gets Missouri River water."

According to WR/L-J General Manager Jake Fitzgerald the city's current well water system originating from Creighton and Quinn will still be in use for several more months. Missouri River water will contribute an estimated 80 percent and the well water system will contribute 20 percent to a blended result in the water storage tank. The Creighton and Quinn wells will always be a back-up fresh water system for the Philip area.

More pump stations need to be installed before the Mni Wiconi project is completed in this region, particularity a station on Cronk Road.

Future project areas may now take far more time than even recent plans predicted. President George W. Bush has cut all other water projects from his proposed national budget and has greatly cut back the Mni Wiconi budget.

WR/L-J operations and maintenance personnel John Kramer and Nick Konst said that the river water is pumped to another pump station on top of a hill near Four Corners. This fills the Ottumwa water tank. Also, water to Philip flows by gravity from there. The other two O&M workers for the Philip area are Ed Dartt and foreman Mike Vetter.

An estimated 40 people attended the ceremony and witnessed West's breaking of a bottle of sparkling water over the main pipe. West then turned the valve and Philip's water tank began receiving treated Missouri River water.