Callahan Creek Watershed District
Board of Trustees
- Les Wegener (Term Expires 12/2022)
- John Semon (Term Expires 12/2024)
- Jason Harville (Term Expires 12/2024)
- Dan Judy (Term Expires 12/2020)
- John Coutts (Term Expires 12/2020)
The Callahan Creek Watershed District, located in western Boone County, consists of 22,170 acres. Callahan Creek is a tributary of Perche Creek, which is a tributary of the Missouri River. The watershed area is approximately 11 miles long and 3 miles wide. It is borded by Harrisburg to the north and Midway to the south, and generally lies between State Highways E and J.
The first informational meeting for the subdistrict was held Oct. 16, 1959. From this meeting, the landowners represented in the area took it upon themselves to contact each landowner to explain the watershed system. Petitions were signed to request the Boone County Soil District Board to initiate a feasibility study. This request for planning assistance was made on Jan. 15, 1960.
The following year, on Jan. 10, 1961, the Callahan Creek watershed was voted in as a subdistrict within the Boone County Soil and Water Conservation District, pursuant to provisions of the Missouri Soil Conservation Districts law. A watershed work plan was issued in 1962, outlining the watershed problems, structural measures and costs for problem solving, and a cost-benefit analysis.
The subdistrict has the power to levy tax for repairs, alterations, improvements, operation and maintenance, and land easements. However, all land easements (48 in total) were donated by the local landowners, and were valued at $30,479.
The project consists of seven floodwater retarding structures, the first being completed in 1967 and the final one in 1980. Of the 34.6 square miles encompassed by the watershed, stormwater runoff from 16 square miles is being controlled. This figure represents 46 percent of the drainage area that has water temporarily detained. The cost of the structures, which were paid by federal funds, totaled $1,038,000. The value of these structures, when adjusted for inflation in 1984, was nearly $2.5 million.
The Callahan Creek Watershed Project was completed in August, 1980, and was turned over to the Boone County Soil and Water Conservation District Board for operation and maintenance (O&M).
Two O&M tax levies have been collected since the first floodwater retarding structure was constructed. The first was in 1966 and then again in 1967.
Although the subdistrict law allows for a maximum of a 4 mil tax levy, the board set the levy at a 2 mil rate. These funds were used by the district to perform routine maintenance of brush cutting on the dams and removal of woody debris from the principal spillway inlet risers.
Serious maintenance problems began to appear in the mid-1980s. Brush that once could be controlled by spraying now required manual labor to remove. Woody debris piled up on the principal spillway risers causing a potential threat to the safety of the structures. Annual cleanup became a necessity. The funds that had been collected for O&M in the 1960s and maintained in a special account were quickly exhausted.
The Soil and Water Conservation District Board and the watershed trustees requested to the Boone County Commission that an O&M tax be levied in 1991. This request was denied due to the passage of the "Hancock Amendment". Even though the O&M tax was part of the original watershed law, this amendment changed the taxing authority. The Missouri Supreme Court ruled that a political subdivision was barred from levying any new tax and/or increasing a tax above the level levied in 1980 without an affirmative vote of the people. This interpretation included watershed subdistricts, even though the districts were obligated by law to perform O&M on floodwater retarding structures already built.
Realizing the situation this placed on district boards, Senate Bill No. 443 was passed in 1992 to restore the taxing authority of the subdistrict. The district board requested the Boone County Commission on August 12, 1993, to levy and O&M tax. The maximum rate of 3.2 mils was set by the State Auditor's Office in Jefferson City. Based upon a budget prepared by the District Board, the rate was set at the maximum.
The future operation and maintenance of the seven floodwater retarding structures can be divided into five categories; annual maintenance, minor repairs, basin cleanup, staff expenses, and a contingency fund. Annual maintenance includes debris cleanup, brush removal, mowing of the dam, spraying, reseeding, and chemicals to prevent brush regrowth. Minor repairs are required on draw-down valves, trash guards on the inlet risers, and road access. Sediment is building up around several of the inlets requiring basin cleanout. Staff expenses are incurred by district employees for dam inspections, contract letting, and correspondence related to the subdistrict's activities.
The floodwater retarding structures have proven their worth. No longer does Callahan Creek flow out of control causing damage to crops, roads, and bridges. The average annual benefit projected to occur in the community in 1972 was $42,000. When adjusted to 1984 prices, this value increased to $99,800, and to 1994 prices, increased to $142,800. This 1994 value includes an estimated reduction in annual damages to road and bridges of $30,600.