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Governor Signs Water Quality Bill: Morning Segment

The governor signed a bill today that establishes the Upper White River Basin Watershed Improvement District. KSMU's Missy Shelton reports.

ONE OF THE BILLS THE GOVERNOR WILL SIGN TODAY CREATES WATERSHED IMPROVEMENT DISTRICTS.

THE CAME FROM A SERIES OF HEARINGS HELD BY AN INTERIM COMMITTEE CHARGED WITH EXAMINING WATER QUALITY ISSUES...THE GROUP OF LAWMAKERS WENT AROUND THE STATE LISTENING TO CITIZENS' CONCERNS.

REPRESENTATIVE DENNIS WOOD OF KIMBERLING CITY CHAIRED THE COMMITTEE.

HE SAYS THE COMMITTEE HEARD ONE COMPLAINT FROM WATER QUALITY ADVOCACY GROUPS OVER AND OVER AGAIN.

SO, WOOD SPONSORED A BILL THAT CREATES THE UPPER WHITE RIVER BASIN WATERSHED IMPROVEMENT DISTRICT AND GIVES OTHER AREAS OF THE STATE THE OPPORTUNITY TO FORM SIMILAR DISTRICTS.

HE EXPLAINS WHY THE BILL MANDATES THE CREATION OF A DISTRICT IN SOUTHWEST MISSOURI BUT MAKES IT VOLUNTARY FOR ALL OTHER AREAS OF THE STATE.

FLOYD GILZOW IS THE EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR OF THE UPPER WHITE RIVER BASIN FOUNDATION.

HE SAYS THE WATERSHED IMPROVEMENT DISTRICT WON'T DIRECTLY EFFECT PEOPLE WHO ARE PART OF A CENTRALIZED SANITARY SEWER SYSTEM, LIKE SPRINGFIELD RESIDENTS.

INSTEAD, HE SAYS IT'S PRIMARILY GOING TO DEAL WITH PEOPLE WHO HAVE SEPTIC TANKS.

BUT GILZOW SAYS THE DISTRICT WON'T BE ABLE TO FORCE PEOPLE TO GET RID OF THEIR SEPTIC TANKS.

HE SAYS THROUGH EDUCATION, HE HOPES PEOPLE WILL SEE THE BENEFITS OF INSTALLING BETTER SEWAGE TREATMENT SYSTEMS.

SO HOW WILL THIS NEW WATERSHED IMPROVEMENT DISTRICT WORK AS A POLITICAL SUBDIVISION?

FOR ONE THING, THE DISTRICT WILL BE ABLE TO BORROW MONEY.

REPRESENTATIVE DENNIS WOOD GIVES THIS EXAMPLE.

IN ADDITION TO SETTING UP THE UPPER WHITE RIVER BASIN WATERSHED IMPROVEMENT DISTRICT, THE BILL ALSO REQUIRES PEOPLE AND LABS THAT TEST WASTEWATER TO BE LICENSED BY THE STATE.

SUPPORTERS OF THIS PROVISION SAY IT WILL LEAD TO MORE MEANINGFUL DATA ABOUT THE QUALITY OF WATER IN MISSOURI LAKES AND STREAMS.