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Parson to sign off on state commitment to fund water project

Gov. Mike Parson is scheduled to sign a resolution affirming the state’s commitment to a water project underway in northern Missouri this week.

The resolution, sponsored by Sen. Dan Hegeman, affirms the legislature’s support of the East Locust Creek Reservoir Project by allocating an annual maximum of $1.5 million toward its construction. The money would be directed from the state’s Multipurpose Water Resource Program Fund, and the resolution caps the total of the state’s contribution at $24 million. 

Parson is scheduled to ceremonially sign the resolution Thursday in Milan. 

The project is intended to enhance its water supplier members’ ability to reliably provide drinking water to the northern and central parts of the state, an area Hegeman said struggled to maintain an adequate supply especially in times of drought. The resolution was essentially a commitment to allocate funds to the operation, an assurance required by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which is also funding part of the construction. 

“This basically affirms our commitment to participate in this water project,” Hegeman told The Missouri Times. “This area is known to have a difficult time maintaining an adequate water supply — they’ve often had to put irrigation piping along the road and pump water for miles to try and ensure enough drinking water for the area. This project just tries to address that great need.”

Hegeman’s resolution passed both chambers without opposition; legislators noted the difficulty the area has with maintaining suitable water supply due to poor wells and the region’s topography. 

The state maintains the fund for water projects, and there’s enough in its coffers to supply the state’s end of the contract. Hegeman said the resolution just affirmed an ongoing commitment to help fund the project. 

“The fund is basically made for projects like this. There’s another project in Caldwell County that’s under construction and a tri-state project in Southwest Missouri that’s also covered,” he said. “The fund is designed to help big projects over multiple years when they require more funding than a traditional water district.”

Members in the House discussed a possible recreational boost as well. While reliable drinking water was the focus of the project, Hegeman said the new area would likely allow docks for boating and fishing activities as an added benefit to communities. 

The project is being developed by the North Central Missouri Regional Water Commission. Initially formed in 2001, the commission’s goal is to provide its service area with quality drinking water efficiently and reliably. It is composed of municipal utilities from Sullivan County, Milan, Green City, and Green Castle.