A new report from the Indiana Chamber of Commerce says the state must do a better job managing its water supplies to make sure businesses and residents have ample availability in the decades ahead.
Released on Friday, the report outlines how different regions in the state face different challenges in terms of water scarcity. Even those with plentiful water at the moment are eventually due for a heavy increase in demand.
"What this study does is set the stage for creation of a long-needed, long-range water plan for the state," said Vince Griffin, Indiana Chamber vice president of energy and environmental policy. "While a creditable plan may take three to five years, legislators—from the Senate and House, as well as both parties—understand the importance of this issue and are prepared to lead on the next steps."
The study was lead by Jeff Wittman, a geosciencist who lives in Indiana but works for the Texas-based company INTERA Incorporated.
The study found that Northern Indiana has a large amount of water available but is seeing an increase in usage for things like irrigation. Southern Indiana may not be able to meet the future demands of local communities and struggles with large distances between water sources, including reservoirs.
The central part of the state has diverse water supplies and utilities are making plans for the future, but population growth projections show that as much as an additional 50 million gallons per day will be needed by 2050.
The chamber made it clear that the study is not a plan of action. Instead, it’s meant to be a study of the current conditions of Indiana's water. Chamber officials hope legislators will look at the study for consideration of what to do—and how much funding it might take to do it.
A separate study done by the University of Michigan found Indiana to be first in the nation in the percentage of its economy that depends on water. Indiana Chamber President Kevin Brinegar also noted that Indiana leads the nation for manufacturing, which uses significant amounts of water.