Chamber Report: Water, Water Everywhere, But How To Drink?

Aug 8, 2014

The report says sources such as the Ohio River mean the state has water to draw upon, as long as the infrastructure is there to transport it to Hoosiers.
Credit Jim Grey / https://www.flickr.com/photos/mobilene/476706221

Indiana will face serious challenges when it comes to water resources within the next 20 years if the state doesn’t begin correcting its issues now.  That’s according to the lead researcher in an Indiana Chamber of Commerce report released Friday.

The Chamber’s report divides up 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. 

Geoscientist Jack Wittman, who led the Chamber study, says as the state tackles the issue, its problem is not the amount of water it has.

“Because we have the Ohio River, the Wabash River and we have these thick aquifers.  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 says.

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 one thousand water utilities are key.

“And 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,” Brinegar 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.