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Water Infrastructure Discussion Getting Sidelined At Statehouse

Some Indiana lawmakers are concerned that an infrastructure funding debate this session will focus almost exclusively on roads and bridges, and a discussion on water infrastructure will get drowned out.

Two recent reports put the cost of maintaining Indiana’s water and sewer infrastructure at anywhere between about $300 million and $800 million every year, with more than $2 billion needed immediately to upgrade the system.

Yet, House Ways and Means Chair Rep. Tim Brown, R-Crawfordsville, says the priority next session will be paying for roads and bridges, not for what he calls “underground infrastructure.”

“I haven’t even thought about what the price tag would be for the underground infrastructure,” Brown says. “I’ll cross that bridge, literally, when we get to it.”

Sen. Ed Charbonneau, R-Valparaiso, long an advocate for addressing underground infrastructure, says he’s concerned about both roads and water and sewer needs coming to a head at once.

“How much of a stomach are we all going to have for doing some pretty significant things that we — as a body, I think historically — haven’t taken very lightly,” Charbonneau says.

Charbonneau adds possible solutions to paying for water infrastructure needs have included increased rates and a water bottle tax.

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