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Spencer Fane Project Solutions Group Develops Innovative Solution to Alleviate Water Shortage in Rural Missouri

Sullivan County, Missouri had an acute water shortage that could only be alleviated through the construction of a water reservoir The North Central Missouri Water Commission proposed the East Locust Creek Reservoir to address the problem. When completed the project will encompass 2,235 acres of water, sitting on approximately 4,300 acres of land, and will be a regional water source, producing 7 million gallons per day. The East Locust project presented financing, governmental relations, real estate, and environmental challenges. Spencer Fane assembled a team led by Craig Davis and Jim Grice to address the issues simultaneously in order to move the project forward.

Financing and Incentives

Several financing tools will be used to fund the project. The North Central Missouri Water Commission will start with a traditional bond issue for preliminary financing, followed by final financing through the USDA’s water direct loan program. Spencer Fane Partner John Brickler leads this effort. The entire project will be overlaid with Missouri’s largest Tax Increment Financing District. The incentive effort is headed by Craig Davis and Jim Grice.

Master Planning and Governmental Affairs

Chad Lamer developed the master plan for the entire reservoir area. The master plan is required for the incentive plan as well as the Water Quality Assurance Plan required for the Missouri Department of Natural Resources. Working with SFBB governmental affairs attorney Joe Bednar, Lamer helped draft legislation that created a Lake Authority. The bill was signed into law on July 11, 2011 and resulted in a net savings of approximately $3M to the land acquisition portion of the project.

Land Acquisition

Spencer Fane partner Joe Hatley will direct the land acquisition team. The team consisting of appraisers, title companies, negotiators and relocation specialists, will ultimately acquire approximately 4300 acres from 90 individual property owners.


The reservoir will sit in a former creek channel creating significant mitigation issues. The initial mitigation estimate provided by the US Army Corps of Engineers was nearly $230M and could have easily put an end to the project. Spencer Fane Partner Mike Comedeca, working with the Commission’s engineers, convinced the Corps to adjust their methodology reducing the mitigation estimate to $30M. Mike will be instrumental in drafting the new mitigation plan for the project.

Spencer Fane’s contribution to the project is best summed up by Brad Scott, General Manager of the North Central Missouri Regional Water Commission. “When the desperately needed East Locust Creek Reservoir becomes a reality it will be in large measure due to the proactive efforts of many attorneys at Spencer Fane.  The Reservoir project has required the full breadth of legal counsel ranging from real estate, to financial modeling, financial planning and environmental law.  SFBB also drafted the first-ever Lake Authority legislation  which provides an invaluable new tool to manage and finance the drinking water reservoir.  I am eternally grateful for the expertise, creativity and passion of the SFBB attorneys.  SFBB is a force multiplier and I am continually amazed at their breadth of abilities and their capacity for handling the complexities of the project.”