A number of factors drive the need for additional regional water supply including rapid population growth, cyclical drought, increased population densities in cities, economic competitiveness and aquifer sustainability.
Finding solutions to secure additional regional water supply is a big goal; one that requires the long-term planning and collaboration of many stakeholders. Projects in north Missouri, along with other parts of the country, are taking a regional water supply approach and building additional regional infrastructure to meet the water supply needs of their member communities. In southwest Missouri, Tri-State Water Resource Coalition is leading a pro-active effort to secure adequate and sustainable water supply for the future prosperity of our region.
Defining and Securing Additional Sources of Water Supply
Tri-State Water has engaged in a series of research studies to better understand the water resources of our region and to define potential additional sources of water supply. Building upon this strong foundation of research, Tri-State Water has defined three existing impoundments, Stockton Lake, Table Rock Lake, and Pomme de Terre Lake, as priority options for additional water supply. These lakes are managed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and belong to all U.S. citizens.
Tri-State Water continues to work with the Corps of Engineers, other state and federal agencies, as well as regional, state, and federal legislators and leaders, to navigate the complex series of steps required to receive water from these impoundments.
A request for reallocation of 39 million gallons a day of water storage in Stockton Lake is currently being evaluated by the Corps of Engineers, Kansas City District, with a final report completed in 2021. Provided the Corps approves the reallocation, the request/report will then move to the Assistant Secretary of the Army’s office for final review and approval.
Corps lakes serve several beneficial uses, including flood control, energy generation, recreation, and water supply. Storage within each Corps lake is allocated to various beneficial purposes. A reallocation of water storage at Stockton Lake would mean that a small portion of storage currently assigned to one or more other beneficial uses would be reallocated to water storage/supply.
Educating Our Region about Water Supply Challenges and Solutions
Tri-State Water’s advocacy and education about water supply issues are core to its mission. To that end it has sponsored several educational efforts.
- Missouri State University and Tri-State Water have co-sponsored an annual fall water conference since 2008, covering a wide variety of water supply topics. Keynote speakers from around the country have addressed the crowd.
- Tri-State Water is available to speak to groups interested in learning more about issues related to water supply.
- Tri-State Water commissioned a Citizen Water Supply and Usage survey in 2018. The survey was done to improve our understanding of how citizens perceive water supply issues. The report is based on 3,287 surveys conducted in 104 communities throughout our 16-county footprint.
Tri-State Water Coalition has worked with our southwest Missouri member communities, the Corps of Engineers, Missouri Department of Natural Resources, and private engineering firms to develop the foundation of information needed to evaluate current and future supply, current and future demand, regional gaps to 2060, potential future water supply sources, reallocation requirements, conservation scenarios, current infrastructure capacities, future infrastructure needs and potential transmission routes, rate impacts, economic drivers, and planning level costs. A series of technical studies are complete, and others are ongoing. See the research tab for more information.
Preparing for Future Projects
Tri-State Water Coalition was founded in 2003 as a nonprofit (501c4) corporation by a group of concerned citizens. It continues to advocate and educate about critical and certain needs for additional future water supply for the region. As part of its process, Tri-State brought to legal life the Southwest Missouri Joint Municipal Water Utility Commission (SWMO Regional Water). SWMO Regional Water is a regional public water utility which will purchase additional water supply and build transmission infrastructure to deliver that additional water supply to regional member communities.
In 2012, based on population and employment projections, water demands for the 16-county Tri-State Water footprint were forecasted from 2010 to 2060. This assessment indicated gaps between available water supply and future water demands. Further analysis in 2016 and 2017 refined the projected gap analysis into an annual average demand projection that could be used to evaluate future water supply alternatives. The gap analysis included nine members who indicated an interest in purchasing additional water supply. A total demand gap of 39 million gallons a day in 2060 was defined for those members. The demand gap for the entire 16-county region was defined as 53 million gallons a day.
First in line as a solution to fill that demand gap is Stockton Lake. Tri-State Water and SWMO Regional Water have requested from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Kansas City District, the reallocation of water supply storage at Stockton Lake to meet estimated future water supply needs in southwest Missouri. USACE is studying the viability of reallocating water supply storage that would yield 39 million gallons per day at Stockton Lake to partially meet a total estimated need of 53 million gallons per day for the 16-county area.
Potential contracts to secure water storage at Stockton Lake and construct transmission infrastructure will involve two overall phases:
Phase I – Purchase of reallocated water supply storage from Stockton Lake. Members may purchase a share of the water storage without making additional commitments to transmission projects. The initial shared investment is relatively small and secures additional water for our future to fill projected gaps between supply and demand.
Phase II – Finance and construct a raw water transmission system to distribute Stockton Lake water. Participating members will contract for their portion of the shared regional system. This system will likely be developed in phases over time.
Each individual member will pursue water projects to serve the needs of their individual system (for example, the proposed reservoir project for the Joplin system) while Tri-State Water and the Southwest Missouri Joint Municipal Water Utility Commission will focus on securing additional water supply from Corps of Engineers impoundments and the construction of regional transmission infrastructure to deliver water to participating member systems.
As part of a Rate Study completed in 2020, three conceptual transmission corridors have been developed to estimate planning level costs for transmission. These corridors are conceptual in nature for purposes of rough order of magnitude cost development. The final corridor alignment will be developed to serve members who purchase reallocated water supply storage. Detailed cost estimates will be developed as the project progresses.
Southwest Missouri Joint Municipal Water Utility Commission is a legally separate organization with its own board of directors and separate finances. The Commission and the Coalition are legally separate but share companion goals. Tri-State Water’s primary goal is to advocate for additional water supply for southwest Missouri and provide education regarding regional water supply issues. Southwest Missouri Joint Municipal Water Utility Commission’s primary goal is to purchase additional water supply and build one or more infrastructure projects to deliver that water to regional communities.
Fulfilling our Mission – Securing Water for our Future
Tri-State Water Resource Coalition’s mission is to ensure adequate and sustainable water supply for southwest Missouri to meet future needs. The challenges are significant. The solutions are limited, complicated and expensive. However, with persistence, hard work, and the support of our regional communities, along with support from agency and elected officials at all levels, we can develop the kind of long-term water supply and infrastructure that will help sustain economic vitality and quality of life for southwest Missouri communities for many years to come.