The need for regional cooperation and collaboration was a common theme heard in testimony Tuesday about Indiana’s water resources.
An Indiana Chamber of Commerce report released last month detailed the critical need for a state-driven water plan to identify resources and develop ways to deliver water to underserved areas.
The legislative study committee hearing told today is being considered the first step in developing that plan.
The committee took hours of testimony from environmental advocates, state officials, local government leaders and utility companies, and the focus wasn’t solely on environmental issues.
Larry Gigerich, who heads Ginovus, a site selection firm based in Indiana, says the Site Selectors Guild earlier this year identified water as the most important natural resource issue affecting where companies choose to locate.
“Water will identify who will be the winners and losers in economic development over the next hundred years,” he says.
Alliance of Indiana Rural Water Executive Director Connie Stevens says there are 797 community water systems in the state, and 708 of them serve populations of 10,000 or less.
She says rural water organizations already have experience partnering.
“They will meet quarterly to talk about what’s going on in their community and what their concerns are, what they’re doing well at,” she says. “They will share that with each other.”
Gigerich says Indiana is in the enviable position of developing a water plan without the pressure of a crisis hanging over its head, but that the state can’t feel any less urgency either.