The Tri-State Water Coalition, in which the City of Monett has been a partner from its inception, is evolving a sister organization with significant authority to secure water supplies.
Monett Utilities Superintendent Pete Rauch, an officer in the coalition, reported to the Monett City Council that the not-for-profit 501(c)4 coalition serves as a consultation body. The coalition networks around 20 city, county and water providers in a planning body but has limited authority to take action.
The Southwest Missouri Joint Municipal Water Utility Commission is forming out of the coalition as a separate but sister organization, made up entirely of municipal water providers in Missouri. Rauch said the new commission became a legal organization in April.
The commission's goal will be to build regional water infrastructure projects. Unlike the Tri-State Water Coalition, the commission will have the power to seek eminent domain to take private land for public use and to sell bonds to finance projects.
"Nixa and Carthage have ratified this," Rauch said. "City Utilities in Springfield has adopted it and the Springfield City Council will give final approval."
As the effort to secure a land-based water source expands, Rauch said he sees Springfield becoming a regional provider, having contracts to draw on Stockton Lake to the year 2040.
Rauch saw more of a divide developing between the needs of the east and west portions of southwest Missouri. Missouri American, which serves Joplin, is already wanting to add capacity to its resources.
"This commits us to no projects," Rauch said. "We can decide our part project by project."
Under the commission's organizational terms, a board of directors will be formed and bylaws drafted once enough members have signed resolutions to participate. A small financial commitment will be required from each member to pay for support staff.
Monett council members agreed to place participation in the commission on the agenda for the May 21 meeting. Rauch said construction of the new water treatment plant in Monett will address the city's need for water in the foreseeable future, but is not "the final answer" for supplying water into the distant future.