According to Monett Utilities Superintendent Pete Rauch, head of the technical committee for the coalition, the latest action does not spell a change of direction for the multi-city and county confederation. The lagoon location near Joplin is significantly different than previously announced possible reservoir sites closer to Monett.
Last year the coalition announced plans to consider building a reservoir as a future water supply. Engineering studies have indicated present water sources like deep water wells may not be adequate for supplying the area in the next 50 years and another water source may likely be needed.
The preferred sites mentioned in the previous study were on Shoal Creek, west of Monett, and on Indian Creek in McDonald County. Rauch said cities in the western territory of the coalition wanted to see another option closer to them.
The coalition board is expected to approve a study by the engineering firm of Freese and Nichols naming a third possible reservoir south of Joplin, using both Beef Branch and Jacob's Creek.
"The additional site is nothing more than some really very basic determination of what might be possible," Rauch said. "The goal of the Tri-State Water Coalition is to get already impounded water from the two Corps of Engineers-managed lakes, Table Rock and Stockton, and to buy water from Grand Lake in Oklahoma."
Rauch said the obstacles for drawing water from existing lakes is primarily political. Picking alternative sites is not a priority, but the possibility of another approach gives the coalition an option to consider while negotiations concerning the lakes continue.
"Whether or not the coalition builds anywhere is anyone's guess," Rauch said. "We would only do that if the coalition was turned down for water at every other point. No one thinks building a reservoir is the best idea."
Once the Freese and Nichols' proposal is adopted, the third possible reservoir site will be added to the website at www.tristatewater.org. Rauch said previous plans have also been posted.