CARTHAGE, Mo. —
Water runoff from farms, along with more urban settings, will be the focus of a series of public meetings this week on development of a Spring River watershed plan.
The meetings are the second in a series aimed at developing a management plan to restore and protect stream health in the multicounty watershed by using practices that improve the quality of water that flows into the tributaries and streams.
“We’re not looking at rules; we’re looking at voluntary practices and raising awareness of the issue,” said Harry Rogers, executive director of the Harry S. Truman Coordinating Council, which is helping in development of the plan with funding from a grant from the Missouri Department of Natural Resources.
The first sessions in November focused primarily on agricultural runoff. Sessions this week will build on that work and expand the discussions to include water runoff from more populated areas.
“It gets more complicated when you have sewer systems and stormwater systems and water running over impervious surfaces, picking up contaminants and then flowing into streams without any intervention,” Rogers said. “We feel like this is an issue everyone has a stake in because many cities get their drinking water from those streams and other people use them for recreation.”
Identical information will be presented at the sessions, set for Wednesday in Mount Vernon and Thursday in Neosho and Carthage.
The Mount Vernon meeting will be at 6 p.m. at the University of Missouri Southwest Center at 14548 Route H. Thursday’s sessions will be at 1 p.m. at the Lampo Community Center, 500 E. Spring St. in Neosho, and at 6:30 p.m. at the Carthage Water & Electric community room, 627 W. Centennial Ave. in Carthage.
The meetings are open to anyone in the watershed, from landowners to city and county officials.
Those attending the sessions in November got an overview of streams in the watershed that have been impaired by high levels of sediment, phosphorus and nitrogen. At this week’s sessions, participants will be asked to suggest which tributaries should be the focus of conservation efforts to reduce bacteria and nutrients.
Organizers also will present preliminary scenarios, developed from the first sessions, showing how agricultural conservation practices can reduce pollution, Rogers said, and will help identify the types of technical assistance and outreach needed to support agricultural conservation practices.
Rogers said expanding the focus to include more populated areas is important, because that reflects how the area is developing.
“At least in Jasper County, that’s were the growth is, with people moving to the suburbs or rural subdivisions,” he said.
DNR officials are joining in the sessions, along with Kansas State University professors who are helping in plan development.
THE MISSOURI PORTION of the Spring River watershed covers an area of more than 20,000 square miles that includes Barry, Barton, Dade, Jasper, Lawrence and Newton counties. Major tributaries include the North Fork, Center Creek, Turkey Creek and Shoal Creek.