The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

May 15, 2013

Water coalition seeks assistance in Washington, D.C.

From staff reports

JOPLIN, Mo. — A trip last month to Washington, D.C. by members of the Tri-State Water Resource Coalition was successful on multiple levels, coalition representatives said during a meeting Wednesday morning at Joplin City Hall.

“I got all green lights and no red lights,’’ said Gail Melgren, executive director of the coalition. “It seemed like it worked and went well.’’

Members of the coalition, from April 16-19, met with U.S. Senators Roy Blunt and Claire McCaskill of Missouri, and U.S. Senator John Boozman of Arkansas, and representatives of their staffs.

They also met with representatives of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, which will work with the coalition in its bid to have water reserves in Stockton and Table Rock lakes reallocated for municipal use in Southwest Missouri.

Melgren said the coalition touched upon environmental assessments and impacts, the size of a possible reallocation and projected water demand for the region.

The Corps told the coalition it was open to the possibility of doing one reallocation study for both Stockton and Table Rock lakes. That study would involve a collaboration between the  Little Rock and Kansas City offices of the Corps. The coalition was invited to write a letter requesting the reallocation study.

The coalition, Melgren said, may have had a significant impact on an amendment to the Water Resource Development Act that is now in the U.S. Senate. A provision of the amendment would block any allocation or reallocation of municipal water supply storage if the cumulative amounts exceeds 5 percent of the conservation storage pool of the projects.

The coalition, in a letter to Blunt, that 5 percent was too low and would severely limit or cripple Corps of Engineers lakes as a source for municipal use. The 5 percent limit in amendment was stripped from the act after the coalition raised its objection, Melgren said.

Representing the coalition, in addition to Melgren, were David Hertzberg, president of the coalition and head of public works in Joplin; Roddy Rogers, with City Utilities of Springfield; Pete Rauch, chairman for the coalition’s technical committee and head of Monett’s water utility, and Brian Bingle, of Nixa who chairs the coalition’s legislative committee.

The Tri-State Water Resource Coalition was formed in Joplin in 2003 after a study showed that water shortages could occur in Southwest Missouri during periods of extreme drought should the area’s population continue to grow.