UPDATE: Indiana seeking to head off potential water crisis

Officials in Indiana are trying to prevent a water crisis as both supply and infrastructure are inadequate for future needs.

A 2016 survey found that Indiana utilities have an immediate need for $2.26 billion to replace water meters, hydrants, water mains, treatment plants, wells and other physical infrastructure, The Journal Gazette reported.

According to each system, the estimate is beyond the capacity of the utilities and customers to finance without a new funding program.

Gov. Eric Holcomb is now seeking to create a multi-agency working group to develop strategies to manage the state's water resources and infrastructure, and support development of asset management plans for high-need water and wastewater utilities. The group would also likely prepare recommendations for the Legislature in 2019.

The Indiana Finance Authority has also applied for a Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act loan of $436 million. It's one of 12 potential borrowers.

The authority wants to expand its Clean Water and Drinking Water State Revolving Fund programs and fund dozens of additional projects in communities across the state.

Discussions of a water crisis began in 2014 when the Indiana Chamber of Commerce issued a report calling for the development of a water resource plan to better conserve and manage the state's water supply.

"We're trying to avoid a crisis from happening," said Greg Ellis, vice president of energy and environmental policy of the chamber of commerce.

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