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Protecting Missouri’s Water

Do you care about access to our abundant water supply? You certainly should.

Farmers understand the connection our water resources have on our communities’ ability to thrive. This is why we encourage our state’s producers to support Representative Jamie Burger and Senator Jason Bean as they introduce legislation stopping unchecked access to our water supply.

Missouri is home to a sufficient amount of groundwater, tributaries and rivers. According to the Department of Natural Resources (DNR), 80% of Missouri’s public water supplies access their needs through groundwater. As riparian rights state, Missourians enjoy a guarantee to the reasonable use of this resource and should do all we can to protect it.

Unfortunately, as it stands today and without the strong representation of our elected officials, there are zero statewide protections from water exporting from Missouri to any destination outside our borders. Furthermore, Missourians have no say when someone attempts to export water, and we need a record of who is exporting our water and how much. Rep. Burger and Sen. Bean are putting in place the proper checks and balances on this process, and Missouri Soybeans encourages our membership to join us in supporting effort.

The proposed legislation, HB 2153, sponsored by Rep. Burger, and SB782, sponsored by Sen. Bean, make it unlawful for any person or entity to withdraw water from any water sources for export outside Missouri. Farmers must be afforded this protection as the floodgates are wide open, unchecked and available to whoever wants our water. In compliance with a 1982 Supreme Court Case, Sporhase v. Nebraska, these bills provide a legal framework by which an exporter will now be required to obtain a permit from the DNR. The DNR will consider many things, including:

  • If there is water available in the amount specified in the export application;
  • The applicant has a present or future need for the water and intends to put the water into beneficial use;
  • The export will not interfere with existing in-state use; and
  • The export will not interfere with proposed beneficial uses within the state.

If the Director approves the permit, it will be referred to the Clean Water Commission or the Soil and Water Commission, depending on which bill passes. The Commission will have 180 days to hold a hearing and receive input from the public in determining if the export permit should be granted. As you can see, this provides many checks and balances and a voice for all Missourians regarding the export of our water—a protection and voice we do not have today.

Furthermore, the bills limit the active life of the permit to five or three years, respectively, on which bill passes. In working with both Representatives Burger and Senator Bean, MSA is adding language that allows any major water user to request the re-evaluation of an export permit due to drought, or any other reason, during the life of the permit. The Director shall respond to the re-evaluation request within 60 days and can throttle back or stop the export if the water availability conditions have changed.

MSA encourages anyone reading this to voice their support for these bills. The national attention to water resources makes Missouri a prime target. It’s imperative that we not be passive during this critical time and instead empower ourselves and our state to protect our water supply against out-of-state interests.

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