Ribbon cutting at water treatment plant

Members of the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community tribal board and the Prior Lake City Council pose for a ceremonial ribbon cutting at the new water treatment plant on Tuesday.

Prior Lake and the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community earned a Local Government Innovation Award for their work on the $20 million water treatment facility that opened this year, the University of Minnesota Humphrey School of Public Affairs announced in December.

The effort was among 17 projects recognized by the 2019 Local Government Innovation Awards on Dec. 12, an annual celebration from the Humphrey School and The Bush Foundation of local initiatives that creatively and sustainably help residents. A panel of judges at the school named the governments leading innovators in the native nations category.

“We the city are most fortunate to have a close working relationship with the SMSC,” Prior Lake Mayor Kirt Briggs said during the water facility’s opening ceremony in September. “The water treatment plant is tangible evidence of the relationship between us. It speaks to the growth and extensive partnering that has taken place over the years.”

The plant opened in September after three years of shared planning and construction and provides water to tribal properties and Prior Lake as the city grows. The facility saved both governments millions of dollars that would have been needed to build separate facilities.

City and Mdewakanton officials said the facility served as proof of a new chapter in their relationship.

“In the early days, I just don’t think that people had the time or understood the importance of getting together over a cup of coffee or a social meal,” Bill Rudnicki, the community’s tribal administrator, said in a promotional video for the award. “Over the last 30 years, that relationship has improved; it’s improved immensely.”

The award includes a $10,000 grant.

The Mdewakanton community’s partnership with Shakopee on a Shakopee Cultural Corridor, which would run along the Minnesota River by The Landing, was a finalist in both the city and native nations categories.

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