Groundwater is one of Missouri’s most vital natural resources. Missouri's groundwater resources vary greatly across the state and are tied closely to the geology of the various regions. The state’s geology is composed mostly of sedimentary rocks like sandstone and fractured limestone and dolomite. These strata serve as substantial groundwater reservoirs. Because of this, much of Missouri contains an abundance of fresh, drinkable groundwater available for use.

To assess Missouri's groundwater resources, the state is divided into seven major groundwater provinces and two sub-provinces. Major groundwater provinces include the St. Francois Mountains, Salem Plateau, Springfield Plateau, West-Central Missouri, Northwestern Missouri, Northeastern Missouri, and Southeastern Lowlands. The Mississippi River alluvium and the Missouri River alluvium are treated as sub-provinces. The groundwater province boundaries do not represent groundwater divides. The boundaries are drawn based on several factors, including aquifer characteristics, groundwater quality changes and aquifer boundaries. Aquifers, and thus local and regional groundwater flows, can and do cross the various groundwater provinces.

The boundaries of the seven Missouri groundwater provinces depicted on a map of Missouri

Environmental Issues

Missouri has significant, high-quality groundwater resources, which the department is charged with protecting from potential contaminants and safeguarding for current and future uses. Tronox LLC owned and operated two woodtreating facilities in Missouri, one in Kansas City and one in Springfield. Operations at both Tronox facilities resulted in area groundwater contaminated with creosote. For more information about the facilities, visit Greenfield Environmental Multistate Trust LLC – Kansas City and Greenfield Environmental Multistate Trust LLC – Springfield.

When hazardous wastes and hazardous substances are released to the environment, the parties responsible for the release are also responsible for injuries to natural resources resulting from the release, including Missouri's groundwater resources. Restoration activities are part of the ongoing Natural Resource Damage Assessment and Restoration (NRDAR) process under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act (CERCLA), commonly known as Superfund. 

Trustees and Funding

Trustees

Under federal law, the State of Missouri acts on behalf of Missouri's citizens as a trustee for the state’s natural resources. The Governor of Missouri designated the Director of the Missouri Department of Natural Resources as the state natural resource trustee.

Restoration Funding

The department has the authority to recover monetary or other damages from parties responsible for injuries to natural resources resulting from the unlawful release of hazardous wastes or hazardous substances to the environment. Natural resource damages monies received, either through litigation or negotiated settlements, must be used to restore, replace, rehabilitate or acquire the equivalent of those natural resources injured and natural resource services lost.

The department recovered funds from Tronox LLC/ Anadarko for natural resource damages to groundwater due to its facility operations in Kansas City and Springfield. Of the one million in settlement money committed, $500,000 was allocated for each area. The department uses the funds from the Tronox settlement to implement restoration projects designed to restore, protect and preserve the state’s groundwater resources in the Kansas City, Missouri, Metropolitan area and Springfield, Missouri area. These projects restore or benefit groundwater including karst, riparian corridors, streams and wetlands.

Restoration Plan

The department successfully recovered damages funds to use to restore, protect and preserve the state’s groundwater resources in the Kansas City metropolitan and Springfield areas. According to CERCLA requirements, the department developed the Missouri Statewide Groundwater Restoration Plan in May 2015, outlines the restoration goals and process for funding restoration projects. Possible restoration projects under the restoration plan included, but were not limited to:

  • Restore injured groundwater, caves, springs and karst systems
  • Preserve groundwater, caves, springs and karst systems by acquiring conservation easements or land for parks or other public uses
  • Eliminate contamination pathways through projects such as well plugging
  • Implement water (dye) tracing studies related to natural resources restoration efforts
  • Fund groundwater conservation projects
  • Implement riparian restoration opportunities along losing streams
  • Protect recharge areas/ establish groundwater protection zones
  • Remove contaminated materials in the groundwater and their sources
  • Provide public education about the importance of groundwater quality in Missouri

Following completion of the restoration plan, the department released two Requests for Proposals in September of 2016, asking for applicants to implement compensatory groundwater restoration projects. The goal was to solicit interested parties and award funds to an entity or entities whose projects restore or benefit groundwater, including karst, riparian corridors, streams and wetlands, in the Kansas City and Springfield areas. For information about the projects that received funding, review the Current Projects tab above. Learn more about the state of Missouri's groundwater

For information about any upcoming events, public notices and opportunities for public comment relating to this region, visit What's New in NRDAR.

Projects

For information about any upcoming events, public notices and opportunities for public comment, visit What's New in NRDAR.  

Several staff inspecting stream riparian at the Municipal Farm

Heartland Conservation Alliance Kansas City Municipal Farm

Restoration project to restore wetlands and riparian habitat at the Municipal Farm, an urban renewal project featuring ecological restoration, urban agriculture, community gardens and outdoor recreation.


Riparian buffers needing repair at a property used for scrap metal recovery along Jordan Creek

City of Springfield - Jordan Creek Riparian

Acquisition and restoration project to improve the Jordan Creek aquatic and riparian area.


Prairie flowers in a conservation easement along the South Dry Sac River

Ozark Land Trust Springfield Area

Project to protect karst areas and losing streams near the South Dry Sac River, within the city of Springfield.