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Watershed Committee of the Ozarks executive director Loring Bullard cited several reasons why he decided to retire effective December 31st. Age was one factor—though he’s still a little ways from reaching the official retirement age. He says he felt the time was right…
"The idea of having such a great staff right now and board, I feel like I'm leaving things in really good hands and the Watershed Center Project is pretty much done--the construction is done. That's been the last ten years of my life helping to get that built and so, not really wanting to start another big project, feeling like the organization was at a good point for me to depart--all that probably entered into that decision."
Bullard worked with the Springfield-Greene County Health Department for 13 years before taking the lead job at Watershed Committee of the Ozarks. One thing he’s proud of as he looks back on his time with the organization is the fact that the committee’s monthly meetings are still held after 27 years…
"I believe that's probably the longest continuously operating water forum in the state of Missouri, and we have a wide variety of people that come to those meetings, a lot of discussion about water and other issues, and it's a good opportunity for networking."
And he’s proud of the new $1.2 million Watershed Center at Valley Water Mill, which offers a place for the public to learn about water and better practices.
Bullard says the Watershed Committee of the Ozarks has seen a number of changes in the 22 years he’s been there—more staff has been added, and the organization is involved in more projects…
"We always enjoyed pretty stable operational support since our sponsors are City of Springfield, Greene County and City Utilities, which gave us kind of the freedom to go out and look for grants to do watershed projects, especially where we could cost-share with landowners on better practices."
The Watershed Committee recently received a $1 million grant called Big Urbie, which will fund demonstrations of mismanagement practices related to urban stormwater in Springfield.
According to Bullard, the water quality in Springfield is pretty good compared to other parts of the country. And he says it helps that we have a constituency of people who understand the importance of water and support efforts to keep the water clean
But he says growth in the area will put stress on our water resources, and we need to be proactive…
"We, I think, have a great opportunity to show people how to do the right thing in terms of managing and taking care of our water, and that's really one of the underlying principals of the Watershed Center to demonstrate some of those things that we can do to keep the water clean."
He says the challenge is making sure people don’t take our clean water for granted.
As Bullard leaves the Watershed Committee of the Ozarks and looks to the future, he plans to volunteer at the Watershed Center. And, he’ll continue to share his knowledge of water with students as he teaches classes at Drury University.
For KSMU, I’m Michele Skalicky.