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Water coalition is a non-profit serving SW Missouri

Thursday, July 9, 2009

The Tri-State Water Resource Coalition, which made a public announcement of its recent water study findings in Monett on Tuesday, was organized in 2004. Its primary mission has been to find alternatives to drilling into the Ozark (Robidoux) Aquifer. Use of the aquifer could not be sustained as a primary water source for the growing southwest Missouri population over the long-term, according to a 2002 study by Wittman Hydro-Planning Associates.

The Tri-State Water Resource Coalition is a 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization comprised of four-state area water providers, both public and private. Other members include municipalities, industries and private citizens.

There are 10 cities from the Pittsburg, Kan., area to Springfield are members of the coalition. Participation by Springfield was a later addition to the organization and broadened the geographic scope of the coalition's interests as well as water needs.

The coalition does not have a source of funding, other than its members, or the legal authority to condemn property.

Work of the coalition has included contracting with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to complete a water supply study, finished in 2006. Members of the coalition provided $100,000, which was matched by the Missouri Department of Natural Resources, for the study on potential reservoirs. Since DNR could not provide money to a not-for-profit, the city of Monett acted as the fiscal agent for both organizations in commissioning the study.

The stated purpose of the coalition is:

1.To determine the water resource requirements of the geographic area served;

2 To investigate available water sources to meet these requirements;

3. To develop and implement a plan to provide a good, quality economical water source or sources to the area sufficient to meet the ongoing needs of constituents.

At the news conference on Tuesday, Ryan Mueller, director of the Missouri Department of Natural Resources water resource center in Jefferson City, applauded the efforts of the coalition. Mueller said regionally led efforts are often more effective than solutions being imposed from outside governmental agencies.

The water supply reservoir screening study presented by engineer John Rutledge at the news conference identified four sites most usable as reservoirs. Three sites were identified as smaller potential reservoirs that could be used for providing future water for Barry and Lawrence counties.

Finding sources for more water to provide 100 million gallons a day to the people of southwest Missouri by 2050 was a major goal of the study. Rutledge said conservation is still a very important and underused tool in stretching existing water supplies until new sources are found.

Coalition members meet quarterly, and meetings are open to the public.

A list of those who have made financial contributions to the work of the Tri-State Coalition include the Missouri cities of Carl Junction, Carthage, Diamond, Joplin, Liberal, Miami, Monett, Webb City, as well as Miami, Okla., and Pittsburg, Kan.

Other contributors include Carthage Chamber of Commerce, Springfield Area Chamber of Commerce and the Webb City Area Chamber of Commerce. Jasper County, Newton County, Cherokee County, the Miami Tribe of Oklahoma and the Wyandotte Nation.

Business contributors include Springfield City Utilities, Empire District Electric Cooperative, the engineering company of Allgeier, Martin and Associates, Tri-State Engineering, Carthage Water and Electric Plant, the Noel Water Company, Missouri-American Water Company, Cherokee County Rural Water District No. 8, Kansas Rural Water Association, Rural Water District No. 3 of Cherokee County, State of Kansas - Dept. of Health and Environment, Blue Ribbon Real Estate, Champsales Property Consults and Crowder College.

Individual contributors include Jan C. Tupper, Marry Ellen Johnston, Robert L. Nichols and Steve Lacey.

Additional information about the coalition is available by contacting Lynn Onstat at 417-624-0820, ext. 204.

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