Missouri American Water hosts first public meeting to discuss proposed water reservoir

Landowners get the opportunity to ask questions

Farol Newdiger is like many of the landowners that fill this room, concerned for the future and determined to keep her home.

“We don’t want to sell. We’ve been there for 60 years and we expected our grandchildren to be on that property,” said Newdiger, a landowner in Site B, one of two proposed locations for a dam.

Newdiger has plenty of questions for Missouri American Water officials and ultimately feels that the company should consider other alternatives.

“I think they should be able to drill wells and furnish water for Joplin,” said Newdiger.

Officials with Missouri American Water say they’ve considered more than 12 other possible locations, but narrowed their search down to two.

“There are some other things that factor into it, environmental issues, some other things we need to consider, but if there are more people in one area that are more interested in selling, that’s definitely going to be a factor we take into consideration,” said Christie Barnhart, External Affairs Manager for Missouri American Water.

Site B lies along the west side of Highway 71 and several roads in that area would be underwater.

“I could not imagine them doing that, especially with all the mining and all that that’s been taking place around there in years past,” said Newdiger.

The proposed $300 million project is still in its early stages with environmental impacts being considered, but Barnhart says this is something they can’t afford not to do.

“If we experienced a drought similar to what happened in the 1950’s, with current conditions, we would not be able to provide fire protection for 39 days. Not doing this is not an option,” explained Barnhart.

Still, many landowners like Newdiger aren’t willing to give up their home, no matter the cost.

“Let’s fight,” said Newdiger.

Missouri American Water has customers in both Joplin and Neosho, with more than 100 miles of mainline in Newton County.

In 2005, the Environmental Protection Agency contracted with Missouri American Water to add over 70 miles of water mains to customers with contaminated wells in Newton County.

Missouri American Water will select a site for the proposed reservoir before the end of January. Once the site is chosen, the company will begin to obtain permits from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. This process may take more than a year.

The meeting for proposed Site C will take place on January 8 at the Diamond Memorial Hall in Diamond, Missouri.