The state is closer to finalizing a plan to address Indiana’s water and wastewater needs. The Water Infrastructure Task Force agreed on a draft report at its last meeting on Tuesday.
One of the committee’s many recommendations is that the state study areas where communities can collaborate to help pay for costly infrastructure improvements. Task force co-chair Rep. Ed Soliday (R-Valparaiso) says that could look like regions grouped by their water source or much smaller collaboratives, or both.
“We’re sort of saying to the administration, there’s more than one way to do this,” he says.
The committee also recommended finding a way to prioritize infrastructure needs, creating a hub for water-related data, appointing someone to oversee water-related activities, setting benchmarks for water utilities and addressing the million of gallons of water lost through leaks every year.
It also suggests creating a new task force to look over things like stormwater runoff and water quality. The committee says that the scope of the task force was perhaps too broad to tackle every issue dealing with water in the state.
“I think we have a long way to go and that everyone here recognizes that the issues are not going to be confined to what we’ve included in our report. But again, it’s a good first step,” says Sen. Susan Glick (R-LaGrange), who co-chairs the committee.
How Indiana will pay for these billion dollar infrastructure improvements is still up in the air — but the report suggested using the State Revolving Fund Loan Program that already helps communities with those costs. Soliday says funding will probably depend on how well communities are able to collaborate.
The draft of the report will now go to the Legislative Council. The task force hopes the state will implement the recommendations by January 1, 2020.
Indiana Environmental reporting is supported by the Environmental Resilience Institute, an Indiana University Grand Challenge project developing Indiana-specific projections and informed responses to problems of environmental change.