Growth Concerns Spur Watershed  Management


   Springfield is a city of about 150,000 residents located in southwestern Missouri, among
   rolling hills on the southwestern edge of the Ozark uplift. Greene County, which contains
   Springfield and several smaller cities, has a total population of about 210,000. The
   region is currently  experiencing a growth boom due to a diversified economy, modest
   cost of living and abundant recreational opportunities. Around the city, and extending
   north and eastward into the municipal drinking watersheds, is a rapidly urbanizing fringe
   area. Outside the city, most of the land  is used for agriculture, primarily beef and dairy
   cattle production.

   The Springfield region exhibits complex geology, which has important implications for
   protection of its drinking water. Much of Springfield's bedrock is limestone and dolomite,
   and karst features are very pronounced. There are numerous losing streams, springs
   and large concentrations of sinkholes in the area.

   The city's drinking  water is provided by  City Utilities of Springfield, a municipally-owned
   utility. The water source located closest to Springfield is Fulbright Spring, with a
   recharge area of 29 square miles, just north of the city.  The city first began using this
   spring in 1883, and today it provides about 12-17% of the city's water supply on an
   annual basis. In 1915, the city began utilizing a large well near Fulbright Spring, which
   currently produces about 3 million gallons a day (MGD). Springfield's  first reservoir was
   constructed in 1929 on the Little Sac River north of the  city, and today holds about one
   billion gallons. In 1955, another reservoir, capable of holding 11 billion gallons, was
   added upstream. The combined watershed of these  two reservoirs consists of an area of
   about 39 square miles. Together, the reservoirs provide 40-60% of the city's drinking
   water on an annual basis. In 1980, the James River, southeast of the city, was brought
   on line. It has a 238 square mile watershed above the intake and is tapped to provide
   20-30% of the city's water supply annually. Finally, in 1996, a 32-mile pipeline was built
   to Stockton Lake, an established  Corps of Engineers reservoir northwest of the city. With
   Springfield's current daily water usage at approximately 30 MGD, it is projected that
   Stockton Lake will  help satisfy the water demands of the city through about 2050. The
   City Utilities of Springfield has two lime/softening water treatment plants that utilize
   activated carbon for taste and odor control and mixed-media filtration followed by

   Priority Contamination Threats

   The three primary  threats to Springfield's water quality are:

         urbanization in the watershed, accompanied  by  the potential for spills and
         contaminated runoff;
         wastewater treatment in suburban areas, which  consists primarily of septic
         systems on karst terrain (many of which are suspected of failing); and
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          agriculture, especially animal waste from concentrated beef and dairy cattle

   Local Involvement and  Developing the Protection Plan

   In the early 1980s, as a result of episodes of taste and odor problems in the drinking
   water, there were numerous public concerns regarding proposed development in the
   watershed. At the mayor's encouragement, the Utility created a task force to investigate
   these issues and recommend possible management solutions. The task force conducted
   multiple stakeholder meetings to provide local  developers, farmers, engineers and
   concerned citizens with a forum to exchange information and voice their opinions. One
   of the task force's recommendations to the mayor was that a permanent, citizen-based
   Watershed Management Coordinating Committee be established to guide and oversee
   water protection efforts. This group was initially comprised of representatives of the city,
   county, and the water utility, along with some citizen "at-large" members. In 1989, this
   group incorporated as a non-profit organization and renamed itself the Watershed
   Committee of the Ozarks.

   Today, the annual operating budget of the Committee is approximately $190,000 per
   year, and funding is provided by three entities: Greene County (in which much of the
   watershed areas lie) provides 20 % of the group's annual  operating budget, the city of
   Springfield (containing the bulk of the water "users") provides 20%, and the Utility
   (responsible for delivering safe water) funds the remaining 60%. Each of the three
   sponsoring agencies appoints one citizen representative to sit on the Committee, and
   three at-large positions  are appointed by the remainder of the Board of Directors. The
   group has a paid staff of five: an Executive Director, an Operations Manager, a
   Watershed Projects Coordinator, an Education/Outreach Coordinator, and an  Office
   Manager.  The Watershed Committee has been very successful in obtaining grants for a
   variety of watershed protection projects, and has a corps of about thirty trained
   volunteers to help implement the projects (see below).

   Since its inception, the Committee has enjoyed a high level  of community support. For
   example, when a county official recommended that the group be terminated (he felt
   Springfield didn't need another burdensome layer of bureaucracy), the local citizenry
   determined that it was highly beneficial to have an objective, citizen-based advisory
   group to guide local decision-makers. Every month, 30 to  50 people attend the
   Committee's meetings (many of them are citizens-at-large who are not affiliated with a
   relevant agency) and discuss a variety of pertinent watershed issues and concerns.

   Management Measures

   The goal of the Watershed Committee of the Ozarks is to  protect the sources of public
   drinking water for the Springfield-Greene County community. The Committee seeks to
   accomplish this mission through a variety of programs, including:

          Development Review. The Committee reviews all developments that  are
          proposed in the  watershed, and makes recommendations to appropriate planning
          agencies. When necessary, the Committee promotes more protective watershed
          regulations and  ordinances.
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          Educational Events. The Committee sponsors many education and outreach
          events, including conferences, targeted workshops, and media campaigns.
          Cost-Sharing. Some of the Committee's most successful projects have involved
          direct work with farmers, developers and landowners. Through grants, primarily
          Clean Water Act Section 319 grants, the Committee has been able to cost-share
          with these individuals on a variety of better management practices that help to
          protect water quality.
          Demonstration Projects. The Committee has a variety of urban and agricultural
          demonstration areas where citizens can observe improved watershed
          management practices in action.
          Water Quality Monitoring. The Committee has worked with its sponsors and
          state and federal agencies to monitor water quality and development in
          watershed areas.
          Decision-making Tools. The Committee has developed water-resource GIS
          applications to help the community make better informed decisions regarding the

   Current Efforts

   The Watershed Committee is in the seventh year of planning and construction of a
   Watershed Education and Demonstration Center in Springfield. On 100 acres of land
   owned by City Utilities, in the heart of the Fulbright Spring Recharge Area, the
   Committee is developing a 10,000 square foot "green" building with workshop spaces, a
   publicly accessible water quality laboratory, exhibit spaces and offices. This  building and
   site will feature a host of energy and water conservation strategies and best
   management practice demonstrations (including green roofs, wetland filters, rain
   gardens,  cistern catchments for rainwater, passive solar, and wastewater recycling  in a
   plant-based treatment system). Already completed on the site are 2 1/4 miles of trail, two
   outdoor classrooms (of the four planned, one each at the wetland, spring, stream and
   lake), a wetland enhancement project, and  a porous pavement parking lot
   demonstration. The Committee is currently  in a capital campaign to raise the $3.3 million
   in funding necessary to complete this $7.5 million project.

   Contingency Planning

   The City  Utilities  of Springfield has contingency plans in place in the event of the loss of
   any of its water sources, including mandatory conservation under worst-case scenarios.
   As a result of the terrorist events of September 11th, water plant and watershed security
   has been tightened. In conjunction with Greene County's nationally recognized Local
   Emergency Planning Committee, the Watershed Committee has conducted several joint
   exercises involving potential threats to the water supplies. In addition, the Committee
   has made efforts to inform emergency personnel of watershed boundaries through
   highway signs and by providing laminated watershed maps for emergency vehicles.

   Measuring  Program Effectiveness

   The Committee's effectiveness has been measured using a variety of direct and indirect
   methods. Through water quality monitoring, the Committee has documented water
   quality improvements in targeted watersheds where better management practices have
   been implemented, and water quality remains high despite increased development  in the
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   watersheds. The Committee also measures success by the increasing number of
   developers and landowners who seek its help or advice early in the planning process,
   and then implement the Committee's recommendations. Other indications of success
   include the increasing number of people subscribing to the newsletter, and a growing
   number of hits on its website. The Committee considers its greatest indicator of success
   to be the fact that the three local sponsors have continued funding its efforts for over
   twenty years.

   For further information, contact:
   Loring Bullard, Director
   Watershed Committee of the Ozarks
   Phone: (417)866-1127

   Website: www.watershedcommittee.org
Office of Water (4606M)                        816F100022                              January 2010