What should Indiana do to ensure it has enough water to meet the needs of its people, communities and economic development?
Whether it be about quantity or quality, water has increasingly become one of the most contentious, heavily debated policy topics at the federal, state and local levels.
And that’s exactly how it should be.
Farmers know that, if we don’t take care of the ground, it doesn’t take care of us.
So, we are precise and purposeful in how we care for it. We think the same way about water. Now is the time to consider how economic development decisions ultimately might impact food production.
Water is a vital resource that we must safeguard. The state of Indiana is uniquely positioned by having more than 35,000 miles of rivers and streams and 100,000 acres of publicly owned lakes and reservoirs.
Historically, we have had access to adequate water resources that satisfied our environmental, domestic, industrial and agricultural needs.
However, we also have had our share of single-season and multiyear periods of low rainfall.
While the state has benefited from its abundant water supply, we must be mindful of our increasing growth—domestically and industrially—and understand that water isn’t an infinite resource.
As a farmer, my understanding and relationship with water is an intimate and straightforward one—no water, no food.
To that end, common sense tells us we cannot make informed decisions without data.
We must continue to collect data via monitoring wells, inputs and outputs on our waterways, etc., to further our understanding of how much water we have and where it’s located.
Indiana Farm Bureau has created a water task force to find answers to many of the questions that have surfaced about water recently.
We want to put our heads together, not only with farmers, but also with stakeholders from different industries and diverse expertise to determine the best solutions for Indiana’s growing water problem.
While those discussions are happening, we need to make sure we aren’t compromising our water quality in the name of safeguarding water quantity, and we need to respect private property rights.
Eminent domain is becoming too common, and we have to find a balanced and better approach to acquiring land, while protecting our natural resources.
I firmly believe that our best days are yet to be seen. We have a responsibility to ourselves, our neighbors and future generations to make informed decisions. Agriculture needs a seat at the table as Indiana seeks a lasting solution that safeguards our water for generations to come.•
Kron is president of Indiana Farm Bureau. Send comments on this column to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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