Lawmakers eye legislation to regulate large water withdrawals
Central Indiana lawmakers are eyeing water regulations in response to a proposed pipeline that would move millions of gallons of water from Tippecanoe County to Lebanon.
The pipeline is essential to a massive industrial district – but local officials are worried water withdrawals could have negative consequences for the region.
Lawmakers have pointed out that state regulators can only step in after a project – such as the proposed pipeline – has been shown to harm residential wells and local ecosystems.
State Sen. Spencer Deery (R-West Lafayette) said lawmakers want to put a process in place that would provide oversight before water withdrawals ever begin.
“What we’re trying to do is to make those rules that will make sure there are checks and balances to make sure that the economic, environmental, overall well-being of an area like ours is looked after,” he said.
Specifically, the legislation would require a study, permit, and third-party review for any water withdrawal project of more than 10 million gallons per day.
Deery said he’d also like to see permits include expiration dates so that withdrawals need to be routinely reviewed.
“Every couple of years, or maybe even every year, you have to look at what is the reality on the ground and then make a determination of whether it’s still fulfilling the needs of the state,” he said.
The Indiana Economic Development Corporation recently released the early findings of a study into regional water availability, which found there was “abundant” water to support growth in both Lebanon and the Greater Lafayette area.
Deery said Lebanon, and the state, are still trying to attract more large companies to the site. So far, only Eli Lilly has officially invested in the district.
“I believe that landing this large entity that they are pursuing is far from a done deal,” he said. “If that doesn’t happen I don’t think the project is a done deal.”
A spokesperson for the Indiana Economic Development Corporation said they could not comment on any potential projects coming to Lebanon, but that if and when any “major water user” commits to the district “we will work with state and local stakeholders to move towards a solution.”