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By David Sharp, NEMOnews Media Group
Missouri Governor Mike Parson signed Joint Resolution SCR 7, passed by the Missouri General Assembly during their recently completed 2021 Session. The Resolution enables the State of Missouri to join with the North Central Missouri Regional Water Commission to service debt that will pay off open bonds.
The Resolution will help fund local side match share to complete the East Locust Creek Reservoir located five miles North of Milan, Missouri. The Resolution was signed into law by Governor Mike Parson on June 10, 2011 at the Milan Community Center.
Governor Mike Parson traveled to Milan along with Missouri First Lady Mrs. Teresa Parson.
The Joint Resolution provides a long term commitment, subject to appropriations provided that the total annual cost does not exceed $1.5 million. The total cost enabled by SCR 7 over the total life of the contract does not exceed $24 million.
The reservoir project will serve over 106,000 residents in a ten county North Central Missouri area according to North Central Regional Water Commission (NCRWC) General Manager Brad Scott. Funding for the East Central Locust Creek Reservoir (ECLR) comes from the Federal USDA-NRCS program under the PL-566 program.
Additional funding is provided from the state of Missouri through the Department of Natural Resources and Office of Administration.
Local funding is from the 2010 ½ cent sales tax and a water rate increase implemented in 2011. According to Sullivan County area residents, the need for increased potable water availability was illustrated by a drought several years ago that threatened to stall local industry along with clean water availability for the community.
“In the last 30 years, we have lost 28 water supplies in this ten county area,” NCMRC General Manager Brad Scott said. “The remaining water supplies may be put in peril if we had a 50 year drought.”
“This lake coming on will relieve some of the pressure throughout the system and serve folks in ten counties,” Brad Scott said. The reservoir will be six miles long according to the Mr. Scott.
The East Locust Creek Reservoir will eventually take it’s place along with other public works projects in Northeast and North Central Missouri designed to provide clean water to industry and area residents. The ECLR is designed to supply seven million gallons of water a day according to Brad Scott.
“It has 82 miles of shoreline,” Brad Scott said of the East Central Locust Creek Reservoir project. “We have got 4,550 acres completely surrounding it. It will be a multi-purpose Reservoir. There will be recreation. Fishing of course. We hope to accommodate all of those things.”
“Boat ramps. Some trails. We have a $22 million road we are putting in there,” Brad Scott said. “It will be exciting.”
The Mark Twain Lake near Monroe City. Long Branch Lake in Macon and the Thomas Hill Reservoir in the Moberly and Salisbury area are examples of similar local water projects.
“We want to have a balance between rural and urban areas,” Missouri Governor Mike Parson said during a Media availability session held in conjunction with the SCR 7 Resolution signing.
“If you want businesses to come here, then you have got to have the infrastructure for those businesses,” Governor Parson said. “We are committed to doing it right here in Missouri.”
Governor Parson addressed the gathering of State and Federal officials and area residents. “I think coming from rural Missouri and knowing what that background is that kind of life,” Mike Parson said.
“I think it is important to realize how important the urban areas are. But no one should have an advantage over the other,” Governor Parson told the Milan Standard. “Everybody wants a piece of the infrastructure.”
“Whether it’s water, Broadband, (Internet Access) everybody wants the same thing,” Mike Parson said. “It’s important to make sure that’s disbursed equally around the State of Missouri. It just doesn’t always have to be in one area.”
“Everybody faces the same issues,” Governor Parson said. “We need to partner with the state. We need to partner with the Federal Government. You can do things like this. This is a huge impact for years to come.”
“This is what true infrastructure is all about,” Mike Parson said. “You mentioned Smithfield and how important that is,” Governor Parson said in response to a Media inquiry about the economic impact on area industry, some heavily dependent on a consistent source of potable water.
“It is important for the expansion of industry,” Mike Parson said of North Central Missouri infrastructure. “We want to attract business here. If you don’t have the infrastructure, they are not coming.”
Governor Parson referenced a distribution center project in Butler, in West Central Missouri. Parson told assembled Media he was in Butler the previous day. “There were 100 new jobs. Butler has much the same footprint
as Milan,” Mike Parson said.
“That opportunity is here as much as it is anywhere else. There are going to be some opportunities. When you have a Smithfield here, there are a lot of companies you could draw in here to support that system,” Governor Parson said.
“It’s just a domino effect. That’s why water and basic utilities are so important for business and business expansion. It’s important for Milan and the people of this county,” Governor Mike Parson said of the East Central Locust Creek Reservoir Project.
“We want everyone in the State of Missouri to do well,” Mike Parson said. “I am proud to be in rural Missouri. My time to support you is as important as anywhere else.”
The East Central Locust Creek Reservoir will have a 2,328 Acre water supply and a 79 foot high dam. The estimated project cost is $130 million and will be the 28th largest lake in the State of Missouri when completed.
The ten county region includes Milan, Trenton, Brookfield, Marceline, Unionville and Kirksville. The Kirksville area is home to several of the region’s largest employers such as Truman State University, Northeast Regional Medical Center, and The Kraft Heinz Kirksville food processing plant. Kraft Heinz and the Smithfield meat processing plant in Milan are significant water customers.
The estimated 20 year economic impact of the ECLR includes 417 jobs created over the first six years. Estimated economic impact to the region was listed at $59 million over the first six years and $42 million long term from 20-50 years.
The ECLR is part of the Missouri Department of Natural Resources strategic consolidation plan. The entire region was listed as meeting disadvantaged community criteria and is listed as susceptible to severe drought.
The Kirksville, Trenton, Unionville, Marceline and Brookfield areas were listed on a Regional Source Water Cluster Status chart as having inadequate water sources based on a November 2016 evaluation. The referenced chart was provided by the North Central Missouri Regional Water Commission along with Allstate Consultants.
Represented by staff at the signing ceremony were Congressman Sam Graves (R-6th District) along with Missouri Senators Josh Hawley and Roy Blunt.
Missouri Senator Dan Hegeman (R-12th District) was in attendance at the signing. Senator Hegeman is the Chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee and sits on the Senate Economic Development Committee. Senator Hegeman represents Sullivan, along with 14 other Missouri Counties.
Also attending were State Representative Danny Busick (R-3rd District) and Sullivan County Presiding Commissioner Chris May.
“This is huge,” Presiding Commissioner Chris May said. “This is going to allow the state to help up to $1.5 million a year. It’s pretty much what’s going to put this project over the hump. I think they said 75% of the Federal Funding is already in place.”
“Not only is it a ten county source of water, but it is the recreation it is going to provide,” Chris May said. “This is going to provide a 2,300 acre pool of water. It is approximately six miles long. It’s very similar to (Long Branch Lake) in Macon.”
“It’s going to be a huge economic engine for this area,” Chris May said. “For the surrounding counties like Adair and Putnam. We will also realize a lot of economic (impact) with business.”
Representative Danny Busick was an Associate County Commissioner for 14 years. Representative Busick is currently in his second term representing Sullivan County in the General Assembly.
“Keeping the industry we have here is one of the most important parts of it,” Danny Busick said. “I know a few years ago, we were very close to having to ask [the Smithfield meat processing plant] to shut down for the summer.”
“That would be very devastating to this area,” the Newtown, Missouri resident said. “Also it’s very critical to attracting industry. There is no possible way we can expand the district or expand the food plant without more water.”
“This is just a necessary thing for our area,” Rep. Busick said of the East Central Locust Creek Reservoir Project. “It’s going to be great to add in tourism. The economic benefits of other businesses this is going to generate.”
“Robert Wilson, who ran the Milan Standard for years was key to keeping this project alive,” Danny Busick said. “I am really grateful to him. I wish he was still alive to see this. He really worked hard to keep this project alive.”
“It’s a great project,” Danny Busick said. “I think we can start to see our towns grow again. For keeping our young people here instead of leaving to find other jobs. It will be great to make Sullivan County grow.”
North Central Missouri Regional Water Commission General Manager Brad Scott told the gathering he anticipated breaking ground on the project in the Spring of 2022. Mr. Scott invited Governor Mike Parson and First Lady Teresa Parson to participate in the ground breaking ceremony.