East Locust Creek Reservoir Project to combat inadequate water supply

Residents in a combined 10 counties in north central and northeast Missouri suffer from inadequate water supply options. (KTVO/Ashley Hoak)

Residents in a combined 10 counties in north central and northeast Missouri suffer from inadequate water supply options.

But now, a major project that would combat the issue - the East Locust Creek Reservoir, is moving forward.

KTVO had a chance to see the area that has been dubbed "the bottom of the lake."

The North Central Missouri Regional Water Commission and the East Locust Creek Reservoir Project Team hosted a special briefing Friday afternoon in the town formerly known as Boynton.

Brad Scott, general manager of the commission says that the 4,550-acre project has been in the works for some time.

It will produce 7 million gallons of water per day for the 54,000 residents living under the threat of chronic water shortage.

Just recently, the groups acquired all of the acreage needed for the project.

"We had 81 land owners and we worked with each and every one of them," said Scott. "We tailored a negotiation and a buyout for each and every one of them that was a little bit different. We really went to great lengths to try to accommodate them as best we could. Our theory was we would rather pay them a little extra then meet them in court. We were able to buy 81 properties and 4,300 acres without invoking eminent domain and that's gotta be some kind of record."

At the briefing, U.S. Congressman Sam Graves (R) of Missouri was on hand and was updated on the project.

He agrees this project is a necessity.

"This is an area that struggles to get water and struggles with wells. Impoundment is the only way to do it. The second opportunity is [the] economic development that's going to take place in the entire region. There is going to be a ton of people that come here."

In addition to providing a vital resource for water, the reservoir will also serve as a recreational area.

Although one of the big hurdles of buying up land is complete, Scott says the project is far from over.

He says that right now, permitting is a growing issue.

"Without permitting, I can't move towards final construction. I'm laying in final plans with finance in conjunction with the state and trying to access a USDA loan and then we will have to address our mitigation requirements for the lake. Then, we will build you a lake."

Congressman Graves assured Scott and landowners he will do whatever is necessary in order to help move the project forward.

"We need to do everything we can to shepherd this through, to push it through and get folks very open minded about it and let us get this quicker rather than later. Again - push, push, push."

Scott says that if all goes according to plan, ground for the East Locust Creek Reservoir could be broken in 2019.

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