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Science and the Environment

A Look at Something Many Take for Granted: Water

John Karakatsanis

Randy Hoops, with the League of Women Voters of Southwest Missouri, discusses Springfield's water supply with Gail Melgren, executive director of the Tri-State Water Resource Coalition, Gary Gibson, director of distribution at City Utilities and Dr. Todd Brewer, assistant manager of CU's Water Quality Labs.

Gail Melgren said small communities around Springfield tend to use groundwater as a source for drinking water.  Only five communities in Southwest Missouri, including Springfield, get water from the surface, according to Melgren.  She said the ultimate goal is to have enough water, and looking to the surface for the water supply is important.

According to Melgren, Southwest Missouri is fortunate to have a good aquifer with quality water.  But she said we need to think ahead and make sure we have a good water supply for the future.

Gary Gibson explained the journey that water from Stockton Lake makes to Springfield's water treatment plants.  When the water level in Fellows or McDaniel Lakes starts to decline rapidly, Stockton is used as a supplemental source for Springfield's water supply.  The water must make a 35 mile journey, 400 feet uphill to Fellows Lake, he said.  According to Gibson, about 90% of Springfield's water supply comes from surface water.

Dr. Todd Brewer said CU is constantly monitoring for bacteria and pathogens in the water supply.  Pesticide use, agricultural runoff and septic systems are some of the things that can affect the watershed, he said.