Challenge. Evaluate the importance of water resources in sustaining economic growth throughout the state and raise awareness for establishing a formal statewide water planning process.
Solution. Commissioned by the Indiana Chamber of Commerce Foundation, INTERA completed a 6-month study of Indiana’s water resources and the impacts these resources have on the ability to sustain economic development across the state. The results of the study are documented in the report, Water and Economic Development in Indiana—Modernizing the State’s Approach to a Critical Resource. The report includes specific recommendations for: creating widespread awareness about the need for water supply planning; coordinating current efforts, including the funding of additional water research; implementing more robust monitoring of water resources; and developing standardized systems for data analysis and water resource management. The study concludes that without planning and proper management, Indiana’s water supply—a longtime natural resource strength—may become a challenge for both businesses and citizens. The study also sets the stage for the creation of a long-needed, long-range water plan for the state. As an additional step toward the potential establishment of a statewide water planning process, INTERA supported the Indiana Finance Authority (IFA) with an evaluation of the infrastructure planning being done by state water utilities. We worked with the IFA, the water utilities, and other state agencies to collect water planning data for the utilities that serve the 15 largest municipalities in the state, as well as five smaller community utilities. Our efforts have included conducting interviews with water utility personnel and state agency personnel responsible for capital planning, operation, source of supply development, permitting, and fiscal management. Data from these surveys is being incorporated into a cohesive planning document that describes the needs of the water utilities in Indiana. The document will include a set of recommendations to the Indiana legislature regarding the need for statewide water planning and the alternative approaches that will result in stable funding and successful implementation.