Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb and other state officials seek to avert a potential crisis on water supply and infrastructure, which the Indiana Chamber of Commerce (ICC) deemed unfit to meet future demand.
Holcomb plans to establish a multi-agency task force to solve the concerns, along with drafting strategies for water resource and infrastructure management and wastewater utility development. The multi-agency would provide suggestions for the next legislative session in 2019.
Greg Ellis, the ICC vice president of energy and environmental policy, said that a statewide plan for managing water resources would be necessary to avoid a potentially large-scale shortage of supply. According to an ICC study, the supply of water in Southern Indiana would be unable to meet future demand, while Central Indiana’s supply remains stable though demand may increase significantly in the following years.
In Northeast Indiana, the study noted that supply remains abundant. However, that does not necessarily mean the region is safe from any risks to supply, including in Fort Wayne. Commercial water treatment services will still be relevant, as well as those for residential applications.
The Indiana Finance Authority’s survey in 2016 found that state water utilities need more than $2 billion for infrastructure replacements. These included water hydrants, treatment facilities, and wells. The survey based its findings on the absence of a new funding program, which could be resolved with proper legislation.
Earlier this year, the state finance authority joined 12 potential borrowers under the federal government’s Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act. It invited Indiana to apply for a $436 million loan, as the authority seeks to expand Clean Water and Drinking Water State Revolving Fund programs for projects within the area.
The public and private sector in Indiana should work together to resolve the looming challenges on the state’s water supply.