Concerns raised over project meant to address Joplin’s water supply

NEOSHO, Mo. & JOPLIN, Mo. —In order to address a growing water supply shortage in the Joplin area, Missouri American Water in Joplin is building a reservoir. But not everyone thinks this is the best way to address the situation.

Tom Aley, President of the Ozark Underground Laboratory, a contract research, and studies firm, said after conducting a study, he’s worried that the reservoir won’t function properly. He did this by measuring the flow rate of the stream in the area where the reservoir will be built.

“It will not hold water, the leakage rate is very substantial, it’s tens of millions of gallons per day. It’s a major leak,” Aley said.

Christie Barnhart, External Affairs Manager for Missouri American Water, said they are getting ready to begin their testing phase to make sure the land will be able to hold the reservoir.

“And what we’re doing right now is we’re entering the phase where we are asking to gain access to property where we will be doing the soil and the geotechnical aspect of where we’ll be seeing the conditions will be right for a reservoir.”

But to do this testing, they will need to use the land they obtained from landowners. Dawn Newlan, President, and founder of Trinity Circle Horses Healing Hearts said she had to move her property early in order to give them access for the testing.

She runs a horse ranch with a primary focus on helping veterans with PTSD heal and says the testing would ruin the healing environment.

“Not to mention our veterans and our horses are not used to banging clanging, drilling, large pieces of equipment, the entire peaceful atmosphere that we have out here will be gone,” Newlan said.

When we reached out to Missouri American Water for their response, they sent this statement.

“On February 23, 2021,  Dawn Newlan granted a temporary easement over her property to Missouri American Water Company for the purpose of conducting geotechnical and environmental testing and inspection as may be necessary in the process of obtaining permits and regulatory approval for the construction of the Missouri American Water Reservoir Project.  Ms. Newlan is one of several landowners in the Project area who agreed to temporary easements to provide Missouri American Water Company access to conduct the necessary testing and inspection.”

Newlan responded that she only consented to move properties due to not having the money to fight the decision.