Tri-State Water Resource Coalition (Tri-State Water) is a nonprofit (501c4) organization whose mission is to secure adequate, affordable long-term water supplies for a 16-county area in southwest Missouri.
A Water Supply Problem in the Ozarks?
How can we have water supply problems in the lush Ozarks? It’s hard to understand intuitively given the abundance of lakes, rivers and streams in our region. But our sources of water supply for use by communities, businesses and industries are limited as compared to all the water we see out our car window when we drive around.
Only five communities in southwest Missouri have access to surface water supplies – Lamar, Joplin, Neosho, Branson and Springfield (Average Annual Municipal Use). The rest of our communities depend entirely on ground water, and the more wells we drill into the aquifer, the more “straws” we have withdrawing from our common resource.
Rapid population growth, increased population densities, cyclical drought, aquifer sustainability, and continued economic competitiveness will require additional water supply to meet growing demand in the region. Additional surface water sources are needed to balance our use of groundwater and meet our region’s long-term water needs.
Regional Cooperation Required
Water supply is an issue that must be addressed regionally and cooperatively for two important reasons: First, because communities are interconnected by our common dependence on this vital resource , and second, because the solutions for additional supply are limited and expensive and it makes more sense to cooperate than to compete for the same resource. It will require regional buy-in to deliver an additional mutually beneficial long term water source. Tri-State Water members include cities, counties, and water providers (both public and private).
Planning Today for Tomorrow’s Success
The need for additional water supply in the future is an issue that must be addressed now. It takes 20-25 years to implement a new water source so waiting until it is needed is not an option. There will be many regulatory, financial, political, and engineering steps and tasks required. Benjamin Franklin said “We know the worth of water when the well runs dry.” Tri States is taking a proactive forward-looking approach in establishing the “worth of water”—before “the well runs dry”. Water has been readily available and reliable and we want it to remain that way. But we must start now to get the job done in time to meet projected future water demands.
Water is Life
Adequate water supply is essential to life and the economic health and development of our communities. To fulfill our mission, Tri-State Water has investigated regional demands, potential sources of additional water supply, potential transmission lines and costs, and much more in order to meet the needs of our member communities.