Annual regional water conference hosted in Springfield on Tuesday

Focused on drought response, preparation and future water supply
Published: Nov. 1, 2022 at 6:54 PM CDT
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SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (KY3) - The Tri-State Water Resource Coalition and Missouri State University hosted their annual regional water conference at the Darr Agricultural Center in Springfield on Tuesday.

The 2022 conference marked the 13th, with one missed back in 2020 due to the pandemic. While the theme varies each year, the focus this year is “Water: Building Resilience.” It’s certainly appropriate, given how the Ozarks had a drought return over the summer and how the western United States is dealing with a prolonged drought and low water levels in Lake Havasu, Lake Powell, Lake Mead, and the Colorado River.

One of the speakers featured was hydrologist Alex Pivarnik with the Bureau of Reclamation. He worked with the Hoover, Davis, and Parker Dams to help regulate water delivery to the Lower Basin states and Mexico. Roddy Rogers, director of SWMO Water, says the Coalition is learning valuable lessons from Pivarnik and the ongoing drought out to the west.

“Sometimes, we think it’s only happening on the other side of the world or the other side of the country,” says Rogers. “It can affect everyone.” The lessons from Pivarnik and a preview of the 2022 Missouri Drought Mitigation and Response Plan set to be released this month are all a part of planning so the state can properly respond to future droughts. “We want to be ahead of that,” says Rogers. “We don’t want to get to that point. When you get into a drought, the faster the water will go. The faster the water goes, the faster the water level drops and the harder it is to come back. As you come up, it’s a bigger basin that needs to be filled.”

The conference also addressed the use of Stockton Lake. The city of Springfield has actually been using the lake as a supplemental supply source since that project started back in the middle 1990s. Addressing the short-term and long-term need for additional water supply, Rogers says they’re looking back to the lake. “We started the process back in 2003 by forming the organization and making a request to the Army Corps of Engineers back in 2007,” Rogers said. That process has led the KC District Corps of Engineers to reallocate 45,750 acre-feet of water from the multipurpose pool of Stockton Lake and 49,000 acre-feet from the flood control pool.

“If we get this allocation from Stockton Lake, that will fill about half of the supply we need to get to the year 2060, says Rogers. “It would very much be a big help.” It also helps that reallocating the water would cost almost $45 million in capital costs (from Fiscal Year 2023 prices) compared to $393 million for a new reservoir to meet the future increase in demand.”

While that plan is waiting for final approval from the Federal Government early next year, Rogers says our current supply is still in decent shape. Plus, he stresses that consumers can still play a significant role in conserving water and helping maintain supply.

”When you’re brushing your teeth, turn off the faucet,” Rogers says. “Don’t let the shower run. We put more water on our lawns in a day than a lot of families on the other side of the world use in 60 days just to survive. Nothing against, you know, green grass and good lawns. But there are a lot of things we can do. If everybody does a little bit, it adds up to a lot.”

Courtesy of City Utilities of Springfield, they have additional ways consumers can save water at little or no cost. For those who want to learn more about the studies done regarding Stockton Lake, those can be found with SWMO Water and the United States Army Corps of Engineers.

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