State water agency to seek $2 million per year for new plan

Saturday, March 28, 2009 | 6:10 p.m. CDT

JOPLIN — The state Water Resources Center will look for funding for an updated water plan for Missouri in the coming years.

Ryan Mueller, director of Missouri's Water Resources Center, said the agency next year will seek about $2 million per year for that plan and other studies. The resource center is a division of the state Department of Natural Resources and provides technical assistance through drought assessment, planning and waterresource monitoring.

Mueller said the plan and its component studies would be used to identify and inventory water usage throughout the state, but a specific proposal has not yet been made to the state Legislature.

Mueller said the agency would likely make a request next year so it could be part of the 2011 fiscal year budget.

State water planning was the centerpiece of an environmental conference held Friday in part by the Tri-State Water Resource Coalition. Water agency officials from Kansas, Oklahoma and Arkansas joined representatives from Missouri to discuss their respective water plans.

Tracy Streeter, director of the Kansas Water Office, said Kansas earlier this year completed an update to its water plan. The water office is the state's water planning and coordination agency.

Kansas' plan coordinates the management, conservation and development of water resources in that state, and includes recommendations to those ends.

The $2-million-per-year Missouri figure is in line with what other neighboring states have done, and the "time is right" for Missouri to update its plan, Mueller said.

State water plans are usually updated every five years, he said. Missouri's plan was last officially updated in 2002, when revisions were made to its drought plan.

The new plan would involve assessing population growth and future demand statewide, determining water-supply capacity for reservoirs, and assigning priorities for water supply in different regions of the state.

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