The Indiana Chamber of Commerce released a report Friday that claims the state will face serious challenges when it comes to water resources in the next 20 years if it doesn’t start correcting issues now.
The Chamber’s report divides the state into three regions.
Northern Indiana’s resources are strong, though it faces a growing need for irrigation.
Central Indiana’s water supplies are diverse, but will encounter higher demand because of population growth.
And, Southern Indiana’s water sources are too spread out, leaving many parts of the region limited.
Geoscientest Jack Wittman, who led the Chamber study, says as the state tackles the issue, its problem is not the amount of water Indiana has.
“We have the Ohio River, the Wabash River and we have these thick aquifers,” Wittman says. “What we don’t have is data about what’s in the resources, what’s in the buckets that we have and we don’t have a system for managing that supply.”
Wittman notes the state has only 30 monitoring wells, which he calls embarrassing. He says the first step is gathering data about exactly how much water the state has.
Chamber CEO Kevin Brinegar says cooperation and coordination between the state’s nearly 1,000 water utilities is key.
“The study suggests that the governance structure we have over water resources in Indiana today doesn’t necessarily do a good job of facilitating that,” he says.
Brinegar says beginning to gather the necessary data and further study the issue – which includes a need for funding – will be a priority the Chamber pushes in the next legislative session.